Woman in “bunga bunga” scandal loved Berlusconi

MILAN (AP) — The former Italian dental hygienist charged with recruiting prostitutes to attend Silvio Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” parties told a court Friday that she loved the then-premier and never invited anyone to attend his dinner parties.

Nicole Minetti is one of three former Berlusconi aides accused of procuring women as prostitutes for parties at the then-premier’s villa near Milan. She spoke at that trial, which is separate from one in which Berlusconi is charged with paying for sex with a minor — Karima el-Mahroug — and trying to cover it up. Both el-Mahroug, better known by her nickname Ruby, and Berlusconi deny having had sex.

El-Mahroug has testified that Minetti was a key protagonist in the sexually charged parties, dancing provocatively dressed as a nun and then stripping for him.

Minetti told the court she had a “sentiment of true love” toward Berlusconi and denied inviting girls to his home. She also said she learned of el-Mahroug’s true age, 17, only when she went to take her home from the police station after the Moroccan girl was accused of stealing from a roommate.

Berlusconi’s calls to a police official that night form the basis of the charge of trying to cover up the allegation of having sex with an under-age prostitute — a charge for which prosecutors are demanding a lifetime ban from politics on top of a six-year sentence on the prostitution charge. As part of Berlusconi’s entourage, Minetti was sent to the police station to bring the girl home.

During the trial, Minetti did not testify, which would have subjected her to cross-examination.

Defendants in Italy are permitted to make statements to the court before the two sides make their closing arguments, though such statements carry less weight than testimony. A verdict is expected in the coming weeks.

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