Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who once rescued his country’s national airline, Alitalia (AZ) from bankruptcy and a hostile takeover by Lufthansa (LH) and Air France (AF), is again in hot water, this time with Pope Benedict XVI, who indirectly criticized Mr. Berlusconi.
According to a report by the BBC News on Friday, January 21, 2011, speaking in Rome before an audience of chiefs of police, the Pope said, “Society and public institutions must rediscover their soul, their moral and spiritual roots. “The singular vocation that the city of Rome requires today of you, who are public officials, is to offer a good example of the positive and useful interaction between a healthy lay status and the Christian faith.”
That may be the least of the flamboyant, 74-year-old Prime Minister’s problems, who is reported to also be the 74th richest man in the world, with a personal fortune according to Forbes in excess of $9 billion.
Excess is a good way to characterize the Caligula-like head of state, who is first and foremost a party animal with a vigorous sexual appetite, and a preference for beautiful and sometimes under aged women and young teenagers, some of whom have been alleged to be prostitutes. His life has been compared to scenes from the 1960 Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita.
While former U.S. President Bill Clinton was almost brought down by an affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, Mr, Berlusconi freely admits to having sex with multiple women, but never paying cash for his pleasure. He has been the subject of numerous investigations, ranging from allegations of mafia collusion, false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges. In fact, he has been tried and acquitted six times on such charges, claiming political motivations for these cases.
Now he’s under fire again for allegedly having paid for sex with a minor, a Moroccan youngster, Karima El Mahroug, otherwise known by her working name of Ruby Rubacuori, which translates as “Ruby heart-stealer”.
The two met at one of Mr. Burlesconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” parties at his estate in Milan, and the Prime Minister is alleged to have told the young girl, “I’ll cover you in gold, but you must be quiet about it.” Prosecutors are not being quiet about investigating allegations of wrongdoing, prostitution and sex with the under aged dancer, who Mr. Berlusconi once claimed was the grandchild of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Remarked a cynic to that statement, “If she’s President Mubarak’s granddaughter, then I’m the Queen of Sheba.”
Mr. Berlusconi’s bunga bunga room activities would make a Hollywood pornography producer, or even someone with the worldly experience of Charlie Sheen, who was once named as one of many clients who visited brothels owned by Beverly Hills, CA madam to the stars Heidi Fleiss, stand up and take notice.
According to the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, “The bunga bunga room is a sort of disco with sofas, a dance pole, a kind of bar and bathrooms where the girls changed into revealing outfits. Half-naked starlets are then said to have performed pole dances, put on stripteases and wriggled up to the Prime Minister provocatively on the sofa, rubbing him up and letting him have a feel, indulging in mock lesbian kisses and rubbing against each other. Another woman was said to be wandering around topless, repeatedly kissing Mr Berlusconi.”
The newspaper went on to report that one show girl was ordered to dress up for the 74-year-old prime minister as a nurse. “You’ll have to get a white coat, with nothing on underneath of course,” she was told. “Put on a stethoscope, a nurse’s uniform and white stay-up stockings. You know how much he likes that sort of thing, playing the patient.”
A close Italian colleague of this writer, Cila Alberti, commented by telephone recently from Liguria, a region in Italy close to the French border on her country’s Prime Minister and media mogul. According to Ms. Alberti, “Berlusconi is our national embarrassment. Every country has at least one of them, but ours is bigger than life. He’s our cross to bear.”
Not everyone thinks harshly of Mr. Berlusconi. Some women who were interviewed by ABC World News in Rome practically swooned over the gentleman, claiming that he is “a real man with plenty of machismo and charisma.”
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