Berlusconi’s exotic dancer account contradicted by magistrates

Friday, November 12, 2010

LONDON - Italian judicial officials have contradicted Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s account of how he intervened to save a Moroccan teenage exotic dancer from a theft allegation.

Italian magistrates also called into question claims made in parliament by Berlusconi’s interior minister, Roberto Maroni that the 74-year-old tycoon’s intervention in the case of the 17-year-old belly dancer was entirely above board.

The teenage dancer, Karima El Mahroug, was taken into police custody in Milan on May 27 on suspicion of stealing 3,000 euros (2,500 pounds ) and some jewelry from another woman - three months after she attended a St Valentine’s party at Berlusconi’s mansion near Milan at which he gave her jewelry and 7,000 euros.

Berlusconi has confirmed that at around midnight his office called the police station, requesting that she be released and handed into the care of Nicole Minetti, an Anglo-Italian former showgirl who was propelled into politics after catching the prime minister’s eye.

Government aides have claimed that calls were made to a regional children’s court in order to gain permission for El Mahroug, then aged 17, to be handed over to Minetti.

But the magistrate in charge of the tribunal insisted that she had given no such authorisation and mocked Berlusconi’s insistence that he believed the teenager when she claimed that she was the granddaughter of Hosni Mubarak, the president of Egypt.If she’s Mubarak’s granddaughter then I’m Queen Nefertiti of the Nile,” the Telegraph quoted Anna Maria Fiorillo as saying.

“I never gave permission for her to be entrusted to Miss Minetti.”

“That night I said, ‘If this girl is really Mubarak’s granddaughter, send me somebody from the embassy or the consulate, or written evidence,” Maria Fiorillo added.

The magistrate initially wanted El Mahroug, also known by her stage name as Ruby Rubacuore or Ruby the Heart Stealer, to be taken to a community shelter.

When she was told that there were no beds available that night, she ordered the teenager to be kept in the police station until the morning.

Instead, at around 3am, she was consigned to the care of Minetti.

Fiorillo said the justice system had been “trampled on” and called for the case to be examined by the Italian magistrates’ governing body, the CSM.

Opposition MPs have accused Berlusconi of committing a gross abuse of office by intervening in a criminal case.

The prime minister has admitted helping the teenager but said he had merely wanted to help a young woman who found herself “in a tragic situation”. (ANI)

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