London: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has hit back at his opponents over the latest scandal involving Moroccan belly dancer Karima Keyek.
He raised eyebrows when he told an audience: “It’s better to be passionate about beautiful girls than be gay.”
Berlusconi, 74, spoke out after it emerged that teenager Keyek, 18, had spent the evening at his house when she was just 17 and was given cash, a diamond necklace and a car by him.
However she has insisted that no sex took place between them and that the perma-tanned media tycoon turned politician was ``like a father`` to her the whole evening.
But questions have been raised about the relationship after it emerged that in May Berlusconi called Milan police and asked for Keyek to be released after she was arrested for stealing 3,000 euro from a friend.
“I work extremely hard and if every now and then I look at the face of a beautiful girl then it’s better to be passionate about beautiful girls than gay,” the Daily Mail quoted him as saying at a motorcycle exhibition in Milan.
Berlusconi insists that the scandal has all been “cooked up by left leaning prosecutors and the media” to over throw him and he told crowds: “Don’t read newspapers, they just misinform you.
“Despite all the attacks we have achieved so many goals and we have the majority to continue until the end of our term in office.”
Speaking of the Keyek affair he said: “Wait and see, it will all be sorted out and blown over. I was just helping someone out and there was nothing else to it.
“I would have been ashamed if I hadn’t done it but I did do it and I will carry on doing it because that is how I am,” he added.