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Ex-Nightclub Dancer Ruby Stages Protest Outside Milan Court

posted 4 Apr 2013, 07:08 by Mpelembe   [ updated 4 Apr 2013, 07:08 ]

Former nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known as Ruby the Heartstealer, stages a demonstration outside a Milan court claiming she was used as part of a deliberate campaign against former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi.

 MILAN, ITALY (APRIL 4, 2013) (SKY ITALIA) -  The former teenage nightclub dancer at the centre of a trial against former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday (April 4) staged a dramatic protest outside a Milan court in which she denied being a prostitute and said she had faced "psychological torture".

Karima El Mahroug, better known under her stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer", made the declaration to journalists outside the court where Berlusconi is facing charges including paying for sex with her when she was a minor.

She has always denied being a prostitute or having sex with the 76-year-old media billionaire during the now-notorious "bunga bunga" evenings at his villa outside Milan where numerous witnesses have said she was a regular guest.

Carrying a large sign reading "The Ruby case: Are you not interested in the truth anymore?" she said she had been used as part of a deliberate campaign against Berlusconi by magistrates and sections of the press.

El Mahroug demanded to be allowed to testify in open court but did not answer questions from reporters who asked why she had avoided summons to appear at previous hearings. As recently as December 2012, she failed to appear in court, later turning up in Mexico where she said she was on holiday.

Tearful El Mahroug, her voice breaking at times, said that she had faced public humiliation after being described as a prostitute and said that investigators had exploited her vulnerability to attack Berlusconi, leader of Italy's main centre-right party.

She said she faced "real and genuine psychological torture" from magistrates once they realised that she would not provide evidence against Berlusconi.

As well as the charge of paying for sex with a person under the age of 18 years, Berlusconi is also accused of abusing the powers of his office by getting El Mahroug released from custody in 2010 when she was held on an unrelated theft charge.

Prosecutors say Berlusconi asked police to release her because she was a niece of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

She admitted lying to investigators that she was related to Mubarak, saying that she had created a "parallel life" as she tried to imagine a different life from the poverty-stricken world in which she grew up.

"According to a reconstruction of facts by the prosecutors I should be the victim but no one is interested in hearing my version of events. This is the only truth that is available," she said.

Expressing her sorrow for having lied over her relation to Mubarak and for having told other lies about her origins, she claimed that she "played" with her imagination because her old passport had allowed her to claim such a relationship.

"As you can see the word "Mubarak" is written on it. This is where the whole Mubarak story came from. Mubarak, Mubarak, Mubarak," she said as she showed reporters her old passport.

"I apologise for having lied over this relation, presenting myself as the niece of Mubarak was of use to me in order to create a parallel life, different to my own. I needed to show that I come from different origins, far away from the poverty in which I was born and raised, and away from the suffering I have endured before and after leaving my family in Sicily," she added.

The demonstration, which follows a separate protest by dozens of parliamentarians from Berlusconi's People of Freedom party outside the court last month, adds to the tensions surrounding the trial, which is due to resume on April 22.

The trial has been suspended while judges consider a request by Berlusconi's legal team to have hearings transferred away from Milan where he says a fair trial is impossible.