An 18-year-old dancer at the centre of a sex scandal plaguing Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has hit out at the coverage of her case, calling it “a media furore.”
Karima el Mahroug, also known as Ruby, spoke in Vienna where she is attending the city’s Opera Ball on Thursday as the date of 78-year-old construction magnate Richard Lugner. She told journalists that she was being defined as the victim owing to her alleged relationship with Berlusconi.
“I don’t see myself as having being harmed or as a victim. I only had positive experiences with him,” said el Mahroug.
Seemingly confident and at ease, Ruby told a horde of reporters at a movie theater Lugner owns that Berlusconi was a modest person who always treated her well, while accusing the Italian media of misrepresenting her.
“There’s going to be a trial and I hope that over the course of the proceedings the truth will come to light — I’m very hopeful about that,” Ruby, who is Moroccan, said through a translator. She denied having worked as an escort girl, saying “there’s no evidence that I was ever paid for such services — it’s simply not true.”
Berlusconi faces trial on charges of paying for sex with el Mahroug when she was just 17. Having sex with a prostitute under the age of 18 carries a jail term in Italy. Both deny any sexual relationship.
Berlusconi was indicted last month on charges he paid for sex with el-Mahroug, whose nickname is Ruby, when she was under age, then used his influence to cover it up. Proceedings start April 6. Both have denied having a sexual relationship.
Berlusconi’s indictment, however, lists 13 nights that Ruby spent at the premier’s villa outside Milan, from Valentine’s Day last year through till May 2, 2010. It said the evenings were “in exchange for sums of money that were paid in cash by the suspect” or by his accountant — or for other gifts such as jewellery.
Earlier this year, Ruby allegedly said Berlusconi gave her 7,000 euro ($9,500) when they first met and that, at the time, she identified herself as Egyptian and said she was 24, not 17.
Ruby, dressed in a black and white outfit with high heels, said she has no regrets other than perhaps giving prosecutors various versions of what happened. As for her plans for the future, Ruby said she wanted to get married to her fiance, start a family and become a housewife.
“I just want to be the Ruby I was before all this and lead a normal life,” the 18-year-old said.