Silvio Berlusconi has made an unexpected appearance at his trial in the so-called Rubygate case.
The former Italian prime minister has been describing dinners he hosted at his villa near Milan that led to headlines about “bunga bunga” parties.
During a break in proceedings he admitted that girls had dressed up as police officers, saying they were taking part in what he called a “burlesque competition”’ – but he denied there was anything untoward.
“What happened at my house is simple: all that took place were elegant dinners and there was never a situation that was less than correct,” he told reporters.
Berlusconi revealed he was paying for women involved in the case – even though some have contradicted his line of defence at the trial.
“I am maintaining all the girls who have been ruined by this trial and the prosecutors, they have been forever dishonoured. Some of them have lost their boyfriend, and maybe they’ll never find another one again.
“I feel responsible because these girls have only committed one crime: to accept a dinner invitation at the prime minister’s house.”
The ex leader – forced from power late last year – denies charges of paying for sex with an underage dancer known as Ruby, and of abusing his power in trying to get her released from police custody.