Berlusconi scandal teen hopeful about trial

Associated Press
Karima el-Mahroug nicknamed Ruby gestures during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, March 2, 2011.  Karima el-Mahroug will be special guest of Austrian businessman Richard Lugner  at this year's Opera Ball. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
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Karima el-Mahroug nicknamed Ruby gestures during a news conference in Vienna, Austria, on Wednesday, …

An 18-year-old at the center of the scandal plaguing Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday she's hopeful that his upcoming trial will "bring the truth to light."

Berlusconi was indicted last month on charges he paid for sex with Karima el-Mahroug, whose nickname is Ruby, when she was under age, then used his influence to cover it up. Proceedings start April 6. Both have denied having a sexual relationship.

Ruby was in Vienna to attend the Austrian capital's Opera Ball Thursday night as the date of a limelight-loving 78-year-old, Richard Lugner, who every year books a different celebrity as his date for the fancy bash.

Seemingly confident and at ease, Ruby told a horde of reporters at a movie theater Lugner owns that Berlusconi was a modest person who always treated her well, while accusing the Italian media of misrepresenting her.

"There's going to be a trial ... and I hope that over the course of the proceedings the truth will come to light — I'm very hopeful about that," Ruby, who is Moroccan, said through a translator.

She denied having worked as an escort girl, saying "there's no evidence that I was ever paid for such services — it's simply not true."

Berlusconi's indictment, however, lists 13 nights that Ruby spent at the premier's villa outside Milan, from Valentine's Day last year through May 2, 2010. It said the evenings were "in exchange for sums of money that were paid in cash by the suspect" or by his accountant — or for other gifts such as jewelry.

Earlier this year, Ruby said Berlusconi gave her euro7,000 ($9,500) when they first met and that, at the time, she identified herself as Egyptian and said she was 24, not 17.

Ruby, dressed in a black and white outfit with high heels, said she has no regrets other than perhaps giving prosecutors various versions of what happened.

As for her plans for the future, Ruby said she wanted to get married to her fiance, start a family and become a housewife.

"I just want to be the Ruby I was before all this and lead a normal life," the 18-year-old said.

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