ROME: Silvio Berlusconi was ''crazy'' about the teenage exotic dancer known as Ruby the Heart Stealer and promised to pay €5 million to buy her silence, according to telephone intercepts leaked to an Italian newspaper.
The former Italian prime minister is on trial in Milan accused of paying for under-age sexual intercourse with Karima El Mahroug, the Moroccan-born dancer who was 17 at the time.
In the intercepts, published by La Repubblica, Ms El Mahroug was heard telling a friend in October 2010 that she and her lawyer had requested €5 million and that Mr Berlusconi had accepted. ''He is crazy about me,'' she said in one telephone conversation. The conversation was one of several recorded by police for Milan prosecutors between October 26 and October 28, 2010, after news broke that Ms El Mahroug was among the guests at parties at his villa outside Milan.
Ms El Mahroug is heard recounting the panic from Mr Berlusconi, his colleagues and her own lawyer when her name hit the headlines.
''Silvio is calling me constantly,'' she tells a former boyfriend. ''He told me to act like I was crazy and talk bulls--- and that he would be there for me with whatever I wanted. My lawyer and I have asked for €5 million in exchange for me acting crazy and he has accepted.''
The billionaire politician, who resigned as prime minister in November, is accused of paying for sexual services from Ms El Mahroug, whom prosecutors allege was at the time working as a prostitute.
He is also accused of abuse of office by pressuring police in Milan to release her from custody after she was arrested on suspicion of stealing cash and jewellery from a flatmate.