Milan

Minetti says Berlusconi was 'true love'

Denies pimping, wants protection from 'threats'

Minetti says Berlusconi was 'true love'

(By Denis Greenan). Milan, June 7 - Silvio Berlusconi's former dental hygienist and ex-Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti on Friday revealed her relationship with the ex-premier she is accused of pimping for had been "true love". Minetti, 28, on trial with two others for allegedly procuring young women including an alleged underage prostitute known as Ruby, denied supplying girls for the 76-year-old centre-right leader's alleged sex parties at his mansion outside Milan and said their relationship had been "exclusive". "I should like to stress that mine was a feeling of true love for Silvio Berlusconi," she said. "He started courting me in 2008 when I was at (Milan's) San Raffaelle hospital. For me, our relationship was exclusive," she said. Italian media had previously published uncorroborated stories that Minetti, a former aspiring showgirl and now a budding catwalk model, had been a girlfriend of 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 new 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". "I and my family have received death threats, which I urge the police to investigate," she said. 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. "The prosecution's theory is based on moralism," she said. Minetti, whose mother is a British dance instructor in Rimini, added that she did not miss politics after being forced to stand down last year. "I feel great," she said. 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. Also Friday two aspiring starlets sued for 400,000 euros in damages a head because their promising careers had been blighted by the prostitution case. "We have been tainted as prostitutes and that has lost us a slew of job opportunities," said Ambra Battilana e Chiara Danese in a joint statement. Fede, one of the other two defendants, sent the court a letter supporting Berlusconi's claim the alleged sex parties had been "decorous" affairs involving "no prostitution".

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