`Berlusconi tried to cover up teen dancer links`

The Italian Premier tried to cover up his relationship with a teenage nightclub dancer, a charge prosecutors say was like a `military attack`.

London: More trouble seems to be brewing
for Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi after it emerged that he
tried to cover up his relationship with a teenage nightclub
dancer, a charge which prosecutors say was similar to a
"military attack".

Berlusconi, who has been embroiled in several sex
scandals, was now accused of abusing his office by telephoning
a Milan police station and putting officers under pressure to
release Karima El Mahroug, known by her stage name as Ruby the
Heart Stealer, from arrest on a charge of theft.

The claims by prosecutors came at the resumption of
the trial in which he is accused of paying the young woman for
sex, the Daily Mail reported.

According to the report, 74-year-old Prime Minister
then allegedly sent two associates to collect the 17-year-old
El Mahroug from the police station.

The associates were Nicole Minetti, an Anglo-Italian
showgirl who his party elevated into politics, and Michelle
Conceicao, a Brazilian starlet who was known to the prime

"It was a military attack, an encirclement, and it was
all directed towards the police station," the lead prosecutor
in the case Ilda Boccassini was quoted as saying.

Berlusconi`s attempt to bail out the teenager occurred
on the night of May 27 2010, after she had been accused by a
friend of stealing several thousand euros in cash and arrested
by police.

Prosecutors claim that Berlusconi was terrified that
the she would spill the beans on their relationship and that
he did all he could to extricate her from questioning.

Boccassini dismissed an plea application made by
Berlusconi`s lawyers for the case to be either dropped
entirely or transferred to Rome to be heard by a special
tribunal of ministers.

She insisted that the Milan court had full
jurisdiction over the case, contrary to what the prime
minister`s legal team argued during a hearing last week.

Prosecutors also dismissed the premier`s claims that
his privacy was invaded when investigators wiretapped the
mobile phones of people who attended private parties at his
mansion in Arcore outside Milan, including a string of
television starlets and aspiring showgirls.

"Everything was done with respect for the law and the
constitution," Boccassini said.

Berlusconi, who suffered a heavy blow on Monday when
Italians overwhelmingly rejected four of his governments key
policies after voting in national referendums, denies paying
El Mahroug for sexual relations but faces up to 15 years in
jail if convicted.

The Moroccan-born dancer, who recently told a magazine
that she was pregnant by her nightclub owner boyfriend, also
insists that she never slept with the billionaire tycoon.


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