Showgirls giving evidence on behalf of Silvio Berlusconi in his sex trial are still receiving large cash payments from the former prime minister, a court in Milan heard yesterday (Monday).
Miriam Loddo, an actress and model alleged to have attended Berlusconi's so-called "bunga bunga" parties, told the court that he pays her 2,500 euros a month.
The billionaire businessman has said in the past that he pays the young women because their lives were "ruined" by prosecutors' allegations that they were prostitutes whom he paid for sex.
In a separate but closely related trial last Friday, a group of starlets confirmed that they too continued to receive generous sums from Berlusconi and that he often pays their rent.
Eleonora De Vivo, Marysthelle Polanco, Elisa Toti, Ioana Visan and Aris Espinoza all allegedly attended the gatherings at Berlusconi's mansion at Arcore, outside Milan.
"I receive 2,500 euros a month because I know Silvio Berlusconi, because I have a little girl and because after the scandal I was portrayed as a whore," said Polanco.
Visan, a Romanian starlet, said Berlusconi had also given her a one-off gift of 10,000 euros.
Toti denied that the girls had engaged in any sexual activities at the parties, saying that "at most girls stripped down to their underwear" and that the phrase "bunga bunga" was just a joke among the female guests.
Berlusconi, who resigned exactly a year ago on Monday, is accused of abuse of office and paying for sex with an alleged under age prostitute, a Moroccan-born dancer who called herself Ruby the Heart Stealer. He denies the allegations.
Two high profile witnesses appeared at the hearing yesterday - Maria Stella Gelmini, who was education minister in Berlusconi's last government, and Mara Carfagna, a glamour model whom he appointed equal opportunities minister.
"Ruby", whose real name is Karima El Mahroug, had claimed that both attended parties, specifically one which was held on Valentine's Day, 2010.
Quizzed by Berlusconi's defence lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, Gelmini said she had been to the former prime minister's villa near Milan several times but "always for work" and never when "young girls were present".
Carfagna said she had never been to the villa outside Milan "in my life" and that she had never met the teenage dancer.
Liza Barizonte, a Cuban model and showgirl, said that the parties at Berlusconi's home had involved "theatrical spectaculars" where women performed "erotic but not sexual dances".
The women dressed up as nurses and schoolgirls and in "Arabian" costumes, she said.
Barizonte, who said she sometimes spent the night at the villa, said she too received 2,500 euros a month from Berlusconi.
If convicted of the two charges he could be jailed for up to 15 years.