News / Europe

    Berlusconi 'Directed' Bunga Bunga Sex Parties – Court

    FILE - A combination photo shows Karima el- Mahroug of Morocco at the Karma disco in Milan, Nov. 14, 2010, and Italy's former PM Silvio Berlusconi in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2012.
    FILE - A combination photo shows Karima el- Mahroug of Morocco at the Karma disco in Milan, Nov. 14, 2010, and Italy's former PM Silvio Berlusconi in Brussels, Belgium, June 28, 2012.
    Reuters
    Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was the ringmaster of “bunga bunga” sex parties at his luxurious villa near Milan, giving the go-ahead for young women to perform pole dances and stripteases, according to a court document.
     
    Berlusconi, who faces potential expulsion from his Senate seat next week after receiving a final conviction for tax fraud in a separate case, was handed a seven-year jail sentence in June for abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor during the parties.
     
    In a document released on Thursday explaining the reasons behind the conviction, the court said there was sufficient proof that the 77-year-old had sexual relations with former nightclub dancer Karima el-Mahroug, who was 17 at the time, in exchange for money and jewelry.
     
    It said Berlusconi directed women to perform and dance erotically during the parties.
     
    “It is proven that the director of the young women's sexual performances was Berlusconi himself,” the court said.
     
    Berlusconi has described the evenings as “elegant dinners” and is appealing the verdict. He will not have to serve any jail time for the conviction unless it is upheld after two appeals.
     
    The court said it was Berlusconi who decided when to begin “the so-called 'bunga bunga' in which female guests worked to satisfy the desires of the defendant, that is to 'make him feel bodily pleasures'... performing pole dances, striptease, dressing in disguises and fondling each other.”
     
    Ruby heartstealer
     
    Evidence also shows Berlusconi was aware that el-Mahroug, also known by her stage name “Ruby the Heartstealer,” was under 18 at the time, below the legal age limit for prostitution in Italy, the court found.
     
    In May 2010, the then-prime minister called a Milan police station to instruct officials to release el-Mahroug, who was being held on suspicion of stealing a 3,000 euro ($4,000) bracelet.
     
    Berlusconi's lawyers said he had made the call to avoid a diplomatic incident because he believed el-Mahroug was the grand-daughter of Hosni Mubarak, then Egyptian president. But prosecutors said he was anxious to cover up their sexual relations.
     
    The court said in the document that if Berlusconi had not known el-Mahroug was under-age, he would have had no reason to make the call and try to secure her release.
     
    The prostitution case forms only one part of Berlusconi's legal problems. In August Italy's top appeals court confirmed his conviction for massive tax fraud at his Mediaset TV empire, a decision he says was politically motivated.
     
    The Senate is due to vote on November 27 on whether to expel him from his seat. Berlusconi, whose center-right party is part of Italy's coalition government, has said he may no longer back Prime Minister Enrico Letta if he is kicked out. But a split in his party has left him without the numbers to bring the government down.

    You May Like

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.