Milan

Minetti denies pimping, says 'really loved' Berlusconi

Ex-Lombardy councillor faces 7-year sentence for procurement

Minetti denies pimping, says 'really loved' Berlusconi

Milan, June 7 - Silvio Berlusconi's former dental hygienist and ex-Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti on Friday denied supplying girls for the ex-premier's alleged sex parties. Minetti, on trial with two others for allegedly procuring young women including an alleged underage prostitute known as Ruby, said she had never taken them to the centre-right leader's mansion outside Milan. She also told the court she had felt "true love" for Berlusconi. Minetti was reportedly at one stage involved with the politician-turned media magnate, who is separately on trial for allegedly paying Ruby for sex and using his position as premier to cover up their relationship. Berlusconi, who faces a possible six-year sentence in that trial, has had a steady girlfriend, Francesca Pascale, since he re-entered the political fray to take his conservative alliance within a whisker of winning the February general election. On trial with Minetti in the pimping trial are former Berlusconi TV anchor Emilio Fede and bankrupt talent scout Lele Mora. The prosecution has requested a seven-year jail term for the three. Minetti also told the court that when Berlusconi phoned from Paris to ask her to take Ruby home after telling police she was former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's niece, she was "only doing it for the girl's benefit". The ex-Lombardy councillor, who took Ruby away with a Brazilian prostitute, said she had been the target of an "unprecedented hate campaign". Minetti also denied "running" a stable of more than 30 young women who attended Berlusconi's so-called 'bunga bunga' parties and allegedly had sex with him. Berlusconi and Ruby deny having sex and say a 4.5-million-euro gift was to help her set up a beauty salon. The ex-premier has said he felt sorry for the then-17-year-old Ruby, a Moroccan-born nightclub dancer whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, after she told him she had fled an allegedly abusive Islam-enforcing father and also suffered in youth shelters.

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