Old ally leads calls for Berlusconi's head over teen stripper scandal

The man seen as the Italian right's leader-in-waiting has called on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to quit, should he fail to refute allegations that he abused his power to keep the lid on yet another sex scandal.

Parliamentary speaker Gianfranco Fini finally weighed in to the political storm that has raged since claims emerged that the 74-year-old pressured police into releasing a 17-year-old Moroccan lap dancer accused of theft.

Mr Berlusconi is no stranger to being caught – politically speaking – with his trousers down. But in addition to the familiar elements of a French sex farce, he has now been accused of abusing the power of his office, which is a criminal offence in Italy.

Reports suggest the mogul premier put pressure on Milan police to quietly release Karima Keyek, who is known as Ruby, on 27 May this year.

The two had met when she attended a Valentine's Day party at the Prime Minister's mansion. Italian newspapers have printed transcripts suggesting Milan police were falsely told that the girl, who had been accused of stealing €3,000, was the granddaughter of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Speaking in front of a TV audience, parliamentary speaker Mr Fini said: "If the allegations are confirmed, the Prime Minister should step down.

"If there was that intervention [by the Prime Minister and his office] and if it's true that it was claimed that the girl was the relative of a head of state, then it would indicate a nonchalance; a corruption symptomatic of the use of state office for private gain."

On the night in question, the teenager was eventually released into the custody of Berlusconi aid Nicole Minette, apparently in line with a request by the Premier's office, which called police HQ an hour after the PM's intervention.

Yesterday it emerged that the Milan prosecuting magistrate overseeing juvenile cases, Annamaria Fiorillo, said she had never given permission for Ruby to be released and had not been aware that she had been freed until two months later. The Interior Minister Roberto Maroni insisted that the police had acted correctly in releasing the girl, who celebrated her 18th birthday at the weekend in the company of C-list celebrities in Genova, where she is reportedly staying with a porn film director. But even Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, Mr Berlusconi's most powerful coalition ally, has publicly criticised the Prime Minister for making the personal phone call to the Milan police station.

The Italian newspapers are also continuing to demand answers. Corriere della Sera listed what it described as six unresolved questions regarding Mr Berlusconi's version of events. Chief among them was the suggestion that the Prime Minister had lied about the girl's parentage; the police's disputed claim that there were no secure care home places available that night and whether police had acted correctly in releasing her without the magistrate's say-so. The centre-left La Repubblica has suggested the Premier sought the teenager's release to avoid her spilling the beans on her participation in one of his notorious parties.

But Mr Berlusconi yesterday insisted he had done nothing wrong. "My resignation would cause serious damage to the centre-right and to all whole country," he said, as opposition MPs and the public insisted he was making Italy an international laughing stock.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Events Consultant

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen for an ex...

Recruitment Genius: Injection Moulding Supervisor

£20000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Busy moulding company requires ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Advisor - £35,000 OTE

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Advisor is required to ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor / Contact Centre Advisor

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As the UK's leading accident an...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003