Rome (dpa) – The women who used to take part in Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” parties still receive large amounts of money from the scandal-tainted former Italian premier, news reports said Wednesday, quoting investigative sources.
Italy’s highest court is next month expected to deliver a final verdict in the case, after Berlusconi saw his conviction quashed on appeal.
In the meantime, Milan prosecutors have been investigating dozens of women who are suspected of having been bribed by Berlusconi to testify in his favour in the trial, which saw him accused of soliciting sex from a minor and abusing his power to cover up the affair.
They traced several payments worth up to 15,000 euros (17,000 dollars) recently made by the politician’s aides to 22-year-old Karima El Mahroug, the dancer known as Ruby the Heart Stealer who was Berlusconi’s alleged victim, the ANSA news agency said.
El Mahroug was said to have sustained an inexplicably lavish lifestyle, featuring a 7,000-euro birthday party for her baby daughter and a week’s holiday in the Maldives that cost 60,000 to 90,000 euros.
Separately, the La Repubblica newspaper reported that Berlusconi’s accountant, Giuseppe Spinelli, confirmed to investigators during questioning Tuesday that he regularly paid bills for other “bunga bunga” women.
“Prosecutors suppose that over the past two years Berlusconi has given hundreds of thousands of euros to the 21 witnesses of Rubygate,” La Repubblica noted, adding that all of them were given free homes, and two placed in luxury villas.
“Whether the money was a simple act of charity – as the suspect Berlusconi claims – or whether it was a way to cover up the true nature of the evenings [hosted in his mansion] is something that the investigation will have to establish,” it added.