Minetti tells court Berlusconi was ’true love’
Former associate of ex-Italian PM (29) accused of induction into prostitution
Former Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti said it was ’true love’ with ex-lover, Silvio Berlusconi. Photograph: Alessandro Garofal/Reuters
What happens when a good looking, 23-year-old dental hygienist cum dancer meets a 71-year-old media tycoon, billionaire? Well, they fall in love of course. Don’t be so cynical, love stories do begin…even at a trade fair. Or at least that is what 28-year-old, former Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti would have us believe with regard to her ex-lover, 76-year-old former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
Speaking today at a Milan hearing of the “Rubygate 2” sex scandal trial, in which she and two other associates of Mr Berlusconi are accused of “induction into prostitution”, Ms Minetti claimed that between herself and Silvio, it had always been a story of true love.
She first met Mr Berlusconi at a trade fair in 2008, where she was working as a “hostess” on a stand. Later, in the winter of 2009 she met him again, when the media tycoon attended the San Raffaele hospital in Milan where she was then working as a dental hygienist:
“When Silvio Berlusconi visited the San Raffaele, he immediately began to discreetly court me and I don’t deny that I was enthralled by him. A friendship that later became a love relationship developed between us but our love story ended at the end of that year (2010)…I want to stress that my feelings for Silvio Berlusconi were feelings of true love…”
“Obviously, I then began to spend a lot of time with the President (Mr Berlusconi) in his homes. I attended dinners and lunches and I would sometimes stay for days in his house…”
Ms Minetti claimed that, in the light of their love story, it was only normal that Mr Berlusconi would promise to do all he could to help her, confirming that he had ensured that she be elected a Regional Councillor for his PDL (People of Freedom) party in 2010, at the age of 25 and with no previous political experience.
She also said that her love story with the former prime minister had been “exclusive”, adding that after it ended the relationship had remained one of “extraordinary affection and great friendship”.
In the transcripts of various wiretaps published by Italian media over the last four years, Ms Minetti’s attitude to Mr. Berlusconi seems somewhat less lovey-dovey and reverential. In one phone call to an old friend, Melania Tumini, she invites the friend to an evening at Mr Berlusconi’s Arcore mansion, warning her to be ready for “everything”.
In court today, she said that that particular phonecall meant nothing, that she had merely used a jokey tone as between old friends. In court however and in another phone call, Ms Tumini claimed to have been shocked by the scenes of low rent, sex play she witnessed between Mr Berlusconi and some of his guests at his “Bunga, Bunga” nights.
Ms Tumini also claimed that not only had Nicole Minetti performed a lap dance cum strip tease routine but she also said that several of the half naked female “Bunga, Bunga” guests had been lasciviously fondled by Mr Berlusconi.
In court today, Ms Minetti did not address these accusations but she did say that she had been betrayed by Ms Tumini, who had “stabbed her in the back”.
Ms Minetti rhetorically asked what wrong she had done to justify the charge of organising a prostitution ring. Saying that she had been the victim of an unprecedented vitriolic media campaign, she totally denied the prosecution’s claim that she had invited people to dinner parties in the Prime Minister’s house, nor had she “organised” anything.
Today’s hearing came at the so-called “Rubygate 2” trial which is separate from “Rubygate 1”, where Mr Berlusconi himself stands accused of involvement in “underage prostitution” and “abuse of office” in relation to then 17-year-old Moroccan, Karima “Ruby” El Mahroug.
Speaking of Ms Mahroug today, Ms Minetti said that she had met Ruby for the first time at a party in Mr Berlusconi’s “Arcore” villa in February 2010 when, “like everybody else”, she had believed Ruby when she had said that she was 24 years old.
As for the May 2010 night when Ms Minetti, at the request of Mr Berlusconi, had “signed” Ruby out of a Milan police station where she had been charged with theft, she said that she had done so “in order to do good and allow the girl to go home…It was an act of generosity on my part”.
Rubygate 2 resumes on June 14th, whilst Rubygate 1 may see the judges deliver their verdict on June 24th.