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Berlusconi's love life is lost in translation


Reports that the former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is engaged to his 27-year-old girlfriend Francesca Pascale have been dismissed as false by native Italians who attribute the confusion to a mistranslation.

Newspapers across the world reported that Berlusconi was set to be married after he used the phrase "Mi sono fidanzato", from the verb fidanzarsi, to become engaged,  during an interview on talk show programme Domenica Live at the weekend. However, in Italy the verb is often used to announce a serious relationship with a girlfriend or boyfriend - and this is what Berlusconi was in fact saying.

With all marriage plans put on hold, the colourful politician is now free to focus his attention on the final hearing of his sex trial. He is charged with paying for sex with El Mahroug - "Ruby the Heartstealer" - at parties thrown in his lavish villas when she was under 18, which is the minimum legal age for prostitution in Italy.

The trial, in which dozens of women have described so-called "Bunga Bunga" parties at Berlusconi's residences, is the most sensational of his legal cases and has drawn huge media attention in Italy and abroad.

Berlusconi denies all charges and El Mahroug, who is now 20, has said she never had sex with him.