I felt true love for Berlusconi, says aide

Milan, June 8 (IANS/AKI) A former dental hygienist and showgirl charged with arranging escorts to attend Silvio Berlusconi's "bunga bunga" sex parties has claimed that she "felt true love" for the former premier.

Nicole Minetti told a court in Milan that she never invited anyone to attend the dinner parties.

"I never invited any of these women to any parties. I felt true love for Silvio Berlusconi," Minetti said.

"We had a relationship... I don't deny that I was immediately fascinated by his personality and great charisma," she said.

Prosecutors claimed that Minetti not only supplied escorts for Berlusconi's notorious parties but actually worked there herself as a prostitute.

Prosecutors have asked for a seven-year jail term for Minetti and two other Berlusconi associates for recruiting prostitutes, including underage teenaged Moroccan dancer Karima El-Mahroug, to attend the parties at Berlusconi's mansion outside Milan.

El-Mahroug has testified that Minetti, also a former Lombardy regional councillor for Berlusconi's People of Freedom party, played a leading role in the sexually-charged soirees at Berlusconi's mansion.

El-Mahroug, whose stage name is "Ruby the heart stealer", is at the centre of a separate trial for Berlusconi.

The former premier is accused of paying her for sex and abusing his powers of office to cover up their encounters.

A verdict is expected June 24 in Berlusconi's sex trial. Prosecutors have demanded a seven-year prison term and a life ban from office for the billionaire media magnate.

Berlusconi denies all charges.

--IANS/AKI

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