Venezuelan model defends Berlusconi as ‘father figure’

Thursday, January 27, 2011

LONDON - A Venezuelan fashion model has said she has known Silvio Berlusconi for four years and that he was a “father figure” to her.

“He is a person who is very kind to everyone,” 29-year-old Aida Yespica, a reality show contestant, was quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.

“For me, he’s a father figure,” she said, adding that the so-called “bunga bunga” room, an underground salon where starlets and models allegedly put on lascivious performances for the prime minister, was, in fact, used for karaoke sessions during which guests “ate fruit”.

This was part of a counter-attack by Berlusconi’s lawyers who interviewed 29 witnesses who gave a very different account to the allegations laid out by prosecutors, citing various models and showgirls who attended the parties.

The friends of the prime minister have collectively presented a “squeaky-clean” image of the parties he held at his Villa San Martino mansion at Arcore, near Milan.

Their testimony is different from the evidence gathered by prosecutors, which painted an image of sex parties in which starlets performed striptease and pole dances, dressed up in kinky nurse uniforms and allegedly prostituted themselves to the 74-year-old prime minister.

Berlusconi’s lawyers, who spent months interviewing the people cited in the investigation, have presented their dossier to parliament as a reply to a 389-page dossier compiled by magistrates in Milan.

The witnesses’ testimony will form the basis of Berlusconi’s defence if he is sent to trial on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and trying to conceal the liaisons by abusing his office. Both counts are crimes under the Italian law.

The list of witnesses includes members of Berlusconi’s security staff, MPs from his ruling People of Freedom Party, his personal doctor and physiotherapist, a Neapolitan singer with whom he has made CDs of sentimental ballads, and showgirls.

They claim Berlusconi’s parties involved nothing racier than watching football games involving his club, AC Milan, and drinking Coca Cola and modest quantities of wine and champagne.

There was no sex, no under-age girls and certainly no prostitutes, they said.

The prime minister, described as “gallant, hospitable, respectful and responsible”, often retired to bed early because he was tired from long days’ spent dealing with government business, his supporters insist.

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