Published January 13, 2015
The woman who prosecutors allege had sex with Silvio Berlusconi while he was Italy's premier in exchange for money spent her second day on the witness stand Friday, denying her own sworn descriptions of racy escapades at his "bunga bunga" parties and long lists of expensive jewelry and watches received from the media mogul. Karima el Mahroug, a Moroccan known as Ruby, dismissed a series of sworn statements she made to investigators in the summer of 2010 as "all stupid things" that she now regrets saying. "I apologize to the prosecutors. They were all nonsense," she said.
They included telling investigators in 2010 that she had exchanged phone numbers with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo at a restaurant. On the stand, she said the closest she had gotten to the soccer star were advertising billboards around Milan that summer — and that she had not been paid to have sex with him.
"If I didn't prostitute myself with someone so handsome, then it is impossible to think I should have done it with Silvio Berlusconi and others," el Mahroug said.
She is appearing as the star witness at the trial of three former Berlusconi aides charged with procuring prostitutes for the media mogul's infamous "bunga bunga" parties. The trial is separate from the one charging Berlusconi with having paid for sex with a minor — el Mahroug, who was 17 at the time — and then trying to cover it up . She has not testified at that trial.
El Mahroug is not charged with any crime at either trial and is formally recognized in both of them as an injured party.
But El Mahroug was less than collaborative with prosecutors, denying having made incriminating statements to other witnesses in the case, forgetting details such as how much money she told police she had stolen as a pickpocket, and denying descriptions in sworn depositions of young women bathing nude at Berlusconi's villa.
One minute she said she didn't own a Rolex, when confronted with a list of jewelry and watches that she had told investigators that Berlusconi gave her, then she said she had bought herself a Rolex while visiting friends in Sicily.
On the stand Friday, she said she received only one piece of expensive jewelry from Berlusconi: a cross that has been sequestered by investigators. The rest of the gifts, she said, were costume jewelry. She disowned a list she had previously given to prosecutors of Berlusconi's gifts that included two separate Rolexes.
At various stages throughout the daylong testimony, el Mahroug was put back in line by the presiding judge who exhorted her to "change her behavior" and answer the questions.
El Mahroug at one point complained that the detailed questioning "was boring."
She denied ever telling a former roommate she had sex with Berlusconi, or telling investigators that she had received 187,000 euros ($241,000) from Berlusconi. Her testimony in court is that she received envelopes of 2,000 euros to 3,000 euros each of the five or six times she went to his villa, and another 30,000 euros to open a beautician salon.
"What reason did you have to make up this particular number?" prosecutor Pietro Forno asked. "I invented this number to be more credible in my wild stories," she said.
El Mahroug also was unable to remember when she told one of the defendants that she was a minor — while she was still attending parties at Berlusconi's villa, or after. And she failed to recall other details, such as whether she had reported 7,000 euros, or another sum, stolen from her bag on May 1, 2010, by a pickpocket.
"I didn't respond rudely," Ruby retorted. "I think it is useless to focus on the amount, if I don't remember if it was 5,000 or 6,000."
Prosecutors in the trial of Berlusconi's aides are set to make their closing arguments on May 31, while a verdict in Berlusconi's sex-for-hire trial could come by the end of next month.