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Party girl denies pimping for Berlusconi

By Dan Rivers, CNN Senior International Correspondent
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Who is 'Ruby'?
  • Minetti, a former TV show-girl and dental hygienist, is a now a local politician
  • She is under investigation for allegedly procuring prostitutes but denies any wrongdoing
  • Berlusconi faces trial for having sex with an underage prostitute, abuse of power

Milan, Italy (CNN) -- One of the women who partied with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has told CNN how she became a key figure in the scandal that is enveloping Italy.

In her first television interview, Nicole Minetti paints a different picture of the parties she attended with Berlusconi, his associates and a bevy of pretty women to the lurid tales in the Italian media.

Berlusconi has been indicted for paying for sex with an under-age prostitute, 17-year-old Karima el Mahroug -- nicknamed "Ruby the heart-stealer." The liaison allegedly happened last spring, during parties at his villa -- something both she and he deny.

Prosecutors also allege Berlusconi abused his power by calling police to try to get "Ruby" released after she was arrested for theft last May. He says he thought she was related to the since-deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and he was acting in Italy's interest by trying to avoid a diplomatic incident.

Who is 'Ruby Heartbreaker'?

Minetti, a former TV show-girl and dental hygienist who is a now a local politician with Berlusconi's Forza party, is also being investigated for allegedly procuring prostitutes for Berlusconi. She also denies any wrongdoing.

Minetti, 25, told CNN she knew "Ruby" through dinners at Berlusconi's villa in Arcore, near Milan, and that she did not realize she was only 17 until the night of "Ruby's" arrest on May 27, 2010.

When asked to explain that night's events, Minetti said: "I was called by a friend of hers ... and then I was called by the president who asked me to go to the questura (police station) because there was this problem with this girl.

Judge orders Berlusconi to face trial
Berlusconi party guest speaks to CNN

"... When I went to questura, I remember there was this Brazilian girl who told me "Ruby" had been stopped because she didn't have any documents with her. She didn't have any ID. Then it came out that she was under 18, so we stopped in the questura until 2 a.m. because obviously she didn't have any ID and the police were trying to find the ID at her parent's home in Sicily.

"It was a very long procedure. And in the end at 2 a.m. the police let her go. But I had to sign for her." Minetti, who sat besides her lawyer for the CNN interview, admitted Berlusconi called her while she was at the police station.

"Yes. A couple of times. I think I called him as well to let him know how the things were going and obviously he was quite worried as well because, I mean, we were young girls in the questura so I called him to let him know that everything was OK. That we were OK, that the girl was OK and how things were going."

Minetti, who appeared confident and self-assured talking with CNN was only evasive on two subjects -- any money she received from Berlusconi and whether her relationship with him was improper or sexual.

She denied completely that she had procured any prostitute for Berlusconi.

Minetti said there were "sometimes pretty girls" at Berlusconi's parties, but that the dinners were not the wild scenes of debauchery depicted in Italian media reports.

"He sings. He tells stories, any type of stories, I mean even personal stories, of his experience of politics, humorous stories, that is a little bit of how the evenings were," she said. "I mean, nothing lurid in any way."

Berlusconi is scheduled to stand trial in April on charges he paid an underage girl, Ruby, for sex and abused his position as Prime Minster by trying to get her out of police custody - charges he denies.

Berlusconi has been tried on at least 17 charges since his first time as prime minister in 1994, but none of the cases have resulted in lasting convictions. Several were overturned on appeal.

Thousands of Italians took to the streets in some 200 cities across the country Sunday to protest Berlusconi's alleged behavior toward women. The largest gathering was in Rome, where organizers said 100,000 people gathered.