Silvio in Brescia. (Reuters)
Rome, May 13: Italy is to be given its first ever glimpse inside the notorious villa said to have played host to dozens of debauched late night parties with stripping showgirls and dancers dressed as nuns.
Silvio Berlusconi threw open the doors of his “bunga bunga” party room to television cameras last night, in a last-ditch attempt to prove his soirées were just good clean fun.
Today, Italian prosecutors called for a six-year jail sentence and a lifetime ban on holding public office for Berlusconi, who is charged with abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor.
The 76-year-old billionaire media tycoon and senator is accused of paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug, better known by her stage name “Ruby the Heartstealer”, when she was under 18, during the now notorious “bunga bunga” parties at his villa at Arcore near Milan in 2010.
The verdict is expected on June 24.
In a two-hour documentary aired on one of his channels, viewers were taken into Berlusconi’s mansion outside Milan, following in the footsteps of dozens of scantily-clad female dinner guests, including El-Mahroug.
Viewers saw the opulent dining room lined with paintings where 30 guests fit round the long dining table.
Downstairs, in brick walled, arched ceilinged basement rooms where women were allegedly taken for bunga bunga parties after dinner, a mini cinema was set up, a space was reserved for dancing before a DJ console and a table was set up from where a barman served drinks to revellers. A rack of flags bearing the logo of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia political party was also present.
The programme, an example of the former Italian Prime Minister’s media power, came just a day before prosecutors start to wrap up a trial which could see him sentenced to 15 years in prison if found guilty of all charges.
Interviewed at the mansion in Arcore, Berlusconi repeated claims that his guests kept their clothes on. “At the dinners nothing happened that could be defined as incorrect or embarrassing,” he said.
“There was a large table, I was the centre of attention and we talked about football and politics … I have nothing to hide.”
Several models and showgirls have claimed women dressed up as nuns and police officers and performed stripteases and pole dances for Berlusconi at the mansion in 2010.
Some of the girls reportedly donned face masks depicting Barack Obama while others allegedly performed lewd mock-lesbian shows and touched Berlusconi “intimately”.
El-Mahroug, an exotic dancer, also spoke out on the programme, restating claims she made tearfully last month outside Milan’s courthouse that she never had sex with Berlusconi.
Last month another former party guest, Barbara Guerra, claimed that Ruby “went with half of Milan in six months”.
Berlusconi, who has a 27-year-old girlfriend, Francesca Pascale, is also accused of putting pressure on police to release El-Mahroug from custody in May 2010 when she was arrested on suspicion of theft. He claimed he believed she was a relation of the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and was seeking to avoid a diplomatic incident.
In his latest interview Berlusconi claimed she told him she came from “a rich Egyptian family” who had been thrown out of home for converting to Catholicism and was reduced to waitressing in Milan.