Emilio Fede has been the editor of Berlusconi’s Rete 4 TV station newscast TG4 for 20 years (Reuters)
Silvio Berlusconi's former mouthpiece, Emilio Fede, has told a court that Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El-Mahroug, aka Ruby the Heart-stealer, "was ugly and stank".
Fede, who has been the editor of Berlusconi's Rete 4 TV station newscast TG4 for 20 years, denied that he was the one who introduced the underage escort to Berlusconi's Arcore Villa.
"I found her ugly, she stank and I didn't like her belly-dance performances," Fede told the bunga-bunga hearing in Milan. "She made bubbles chewing gum."
According to Italian prosecutors, Fede was aware that Ruby was underage when she attended Berlusconi's parties.
Fede maintained that he first met Ruby at a beauty contest in Sicily in 2009, when she was 16.
"I wasn't aware she was underage, as she looked of age [18 in Italy]. She said she was 24 and Egyptian," Fede said.
He told judges that no "girl-touching" took place during the parties, which he described as "classy dinners". However he maintained girls performed burlesque shows and once a girl wore a mask of former Italian left-wing PM Massimo d'Alema.
"Berlusconi never kissed nor touched any girl in my presence during dinners at Arcore. I never saw him performing any sexually transgressive act," Fede said.
"Once, a girl's bra slid down and the first thing the president did was to tell a waiter to bring something to cover her," Fede said.
Berusconi is on trial on charges of underage prostitution and exaction (bribery) charges.
Fede is also facing charges of pimping and aiding and abetting in a trial linked to the bunga-bunga case.
Often criticised for being overtly biased in favour of Berlusconi in his news broadcasts, Fede was sacked by his old "friend" earlier this year.
During the bunga-bunga trial, it emerged that Fede was asked by businessman Lele Mora - also on trial for pimping and aiding and abetting - to intercede on his behalf to get a €1.2m (£1m) loan from Berlusconi. Fede agreed on condition that he was to keep €400,000 for himself, unknown to Berlusconi.
Fede denied the claim.
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