Clooney, Ronaldo and the Berlusconi connection
Actor and footballer among celebs who could be called to testify on Berlusconi’s behalf
Hollywood star George Clooney has declared himself deeply puzzled as to why he should be listed as a potential defence witness when Silvio Berlusconi goes on trial in Milan next week charged with using an underage prostitute.
"It seems odd since I've only met Berlusconi once and that was in an attempt to get aid into Darfur," said the 49-year-old actor.
In fact, the reason why he's on the list, along with his Italian girlfriend Elisabetta Canalis (above), is simple.
Clooney has a villa on Lake Como where he spends part of the year, about an hour's drive from Milan, where Berlusconi allegedly holds his infamous 'bunga, bunga' parties at his Arcore estate.
Karima el-Mahroug, the girl at the centre of the trial, whom Berlusconi is alleged to have paid for sex when she was only 17, told prosecutors she once saw Clooney and Canalis at one of the parties.
Canalis has already said that the claim is nonsense. Now the PM's lawyers want her and Clooney to stand up in court and prove that Karima - better known as Ruby the Heart Stealer is fantasising. This would support their case that nothing the Moroccan-born exotic dancer says can be trusted - such as that the PM's dinner parties invariably descend into orgies.
The Hollywood actor is not the only celebrity on the list of 78 potential defence witnesses who could be dragged into the trial by Ruby's claims to prosecutors.
Belen Rodriguez, an Italian model and close friend of Cannalis, is on the list because Ruby claims to have seen her dancing naked at one of Berlusconi's parties. The model denies it.
The Portuguese striker and former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is also listed - because Ruby claims to have had sex with him after they met in a nightclub in January 2010. She says he paid her 4,000 euros in cash after spending the night with her in a Milan hotel.
Ronaldo has already said the encounter never took place. "Such reports are totally false," he said when Ruby's allegation was first reported last month. "I do not know the referred young woman, I have never met her, nor have I had any date or encounter with her."
Berlusconi's lawyers want him to say exactly the same again in court.
Whether Ronaldo, Clooney, Cannalis, Rodriguez et al ever have to show up at the Milan hearing remains to be seen. The judges will go through the listed witnesses - the prosecution has 136 requests - and decide who should be called when the trial gets underway on April 6.
If Clooney is called, it's likely to make the media circus surrounding the trial even more of a circus than it already threatens to be. When Clooney gave evidence at a fraud trial last year he spoke in Italian and had the Milan matrons in the public gallery swooning when he waved to them. ·
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