Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi has made a rare court appearance to deny some of the more salacious accusations at the centre of a sex scandal.
The former premier said he never had sex with an underage Moroccan teenager, never paid for sex with any guest at his villa near Milan and denied the so-called “bunga-bunga” parties that he held were in any way sexual.
“The expression ‘bunga-bunga’ comes from a joke that I have repeated many times, and that has been picked up viciously by the media,” Berlusconi said during an appearance at his trial on charges of having paid for sex with Moroccan teen Karima el-Mahroug, known as Ruby, and trying to cover it up.
Berlusconi’s declaration was spontaneous, a practice that Italy allows defendants and which does not have the weight of testimony. His lawyers have indicated that he does not intend to testify.
Berlusconi said his long history of legal battles also discouraged him from taking the stand.
The case is the first involving the three-time former premier’s personal behaviour. Berlusconi stepped down as premier last November after failing to persuade financial markets he could come up with convincing reforms to protect debt-laden Italy from the sovereign debt crisis.
Berlusconi has repeatedly denied sex scandal accusations.
If convicted of the charge of using his influence to cover up a crime, Berlusconi could be barred from public office. It follows calls he made to the Milan police station the night of May 27-28, 2010, after Ms el-Mahroug was picked up on suspicion of theft. She was later released without charges.