MILAN  - Silvio Berlusconi on Friday said his wild parties were “burlesque contests,” as the former Italian prime minister made a first appearance at his trial for having intimate relations with an underage girl. The parties were described by Berlusconi as “elegant dinners” characterised by an atmosphere of “joy, serenity and conviviality.” He said that after dinner his female guests would then hold “burlesque contests and practised” with him in a discotheque in the villa. The scandal-tainted billionaire, who stepped down in Nov, also defended himself against accusations from prosecutors that payments he made to three women due to testify at the trial could be a way to influence their testimony.
“I pay for these girls’ upkeep because their lives have been ruined by this trial,” the 75-year-old told reporters during a break in the hearing.
He said some 30 women had been reduced to penury by the trial, adding that some of them have lost jobs and boyfriends due to media pressure.
“Their only fault was accepting a dinner invitation from me,” he said. “I’ve come here to see this show, a vast media slander operation,” he said, adding that the use of state funds for a “useless” trial was scandalous.