Rome– Italian prime minister and media mogul Silvio Berlusconi is under investigation for allegedly paying for sex with a minor in a prostitution and showbiz scandal involving his Mediaset TV empire.
Milan prosecutors have confirmed that the 74-year-old billionaire TV tycoon, who is Italy’s longest serving postwar prime minister, has been summoned to appear in court on allegations he gave gifts in exchange for sexual favors to a 17-year-old nightclub dancer nicknamed Ruby during parties at his villa outside Milan.
Berlusconi also faces questioning for allegedly abusing his power to try and cover up these encounters which prosecutors claim were organized, among others, by Mediaset news anchor Emilio Fede and former Mediaset showgirl Nicole Minetti, now a local pol.
Fede and Minetti are both being probed for allegedly exploiting or aiding prostitution of a minor.
Ruby, whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, has said in newspaper interviews that she attended parties at the premier’s villa and that she lied about her age, claiming to be over 18. She denied having sex with the premier.
In an audio message to his supporters Berlusconi criticized the investigation, which was announced the day after Italy’s highest court lifted his immunity from prosecution, as a smear job by politically hostile magistrates, noting that he has been investigated over 100 times since first taking office, yet never convicted. The flamboyant Berlusconi added that prosecutors were “jealous” because he had never invited them to his private parties.
Mediaset, which is Italy’s top commercial broadcaster, issued a statement supporting Fede, who is news chief at its Rete 4 station, saying it was “convinced” the investigation would prove his innocence.