The charges against Berlusconi, which he denies, include paying for sex with el Mahroug, better known under her stage name ‘Ruby the Heartstealer’, when she was a minor. She has always denied having sex with the 76-year-old billionaire during the now-notorious ‘bunga bunga’ evenings at his villa outside Milan.
Carrying a large sign reading ‘The Ruby case: Are you not interested in the truth any more?’, she said she had been used as part of a deliberate campaign against Berlusconi by magistrates and sections of the press.
“Today I realise that there is a war under way against him that I do not feel part of, but which has dragged me in and injures me,” she said, reading a prepared statement. “I do not want to be a victim of this situation.”
El Mahroug, her voice breaking at times, said she had been publicly humiliated by the implication that she was a prostitute. She said she faced ‘real and genuine psychological torture’ from magistrates once they realised that she would not provide evidence against Berlusconi. The trial has been suspended and the next hearing is due on April 22.