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Transcript: Party girl on Berlusconi scandal

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Who is 'Ruby'?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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 parties she attended with Berlusconi, his associates and a bevy of pretty women to lurid tales in Italian media. Berlusconi has been indicted for paying for sex with an under-age nightclub dancer, 17-year-old Karima el Mahroug, nicknamed "Ruby the heart-stealer." The liaison allegedly happened last spring, at parties at his villa -- something both she and he deny.

About charges that he improperly used his office to help get Ruby out of police custody, the Prime Minister said it was a diplomatic gesture because he understood that she was the niece of then-Egyptian President Hosi Mubarak.

Here is a full transcript of Nicole Minetti's interview with CNN's Senior International Correspondent Dan Rivers:

Rivers: When did you first meet Berlusconi, what were the circumstances?

Minetti: I met him I would say about 3 years ago. I had met him in several situations, but the time that I actually approached him was at St. Raphael hospital. He was there for some treatments. And obviously I told him that I was a big fan of him. Like all of my family and that I was graduating as a dental hygienist that I would have loved to do politics. So he was very kind in my regards. So he left his contact, his telephone number and I left mine, not to him personally but to his entourage that was there. And some time later, I phoned him and said to him that, I would love to do something with politics, conventions, some stuff like that and so that is how it started. He was very kind in my regards and I told him that I was English, that my parents were English that I knew very well the language. And he was very surprised and I could tell that that was very important to him. He told me to study and to do well in my exams. And that is how I first met him.

Rivers: When did you first go to Arcore (where Berlusconi has a villa)?

Minetti: I don't remember the specific dates but I would say a couple of months after I met him in that certain situation. I went up for a political meeting. It was breakfast, I seem to remember, and that is the first time I went up to Arcore.

Rivers: Obviously these court documents paint a very lurid picture of the parties. What was your impression of them?

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

Minetti: Obviously it is the exact opposite. I mean the parties -- if we can call them parties -- were definitely different to how the press describes them. I've been there in several different situations. Sometimes I was there for dinner and sometimes for a lunch, let's say, sometimes there were many people, sometimes less. It depends. And all of the times what I can say, what I've seen is that the dinners were very nice, very good food, very good wine, very good music. I mean the president, he is a showman, let's say, he can talk about any thing. He sings. He tells stories, any type of stories, I mean even personal stories, of his experience of politics, humor stories. That is a little bit of how the evenings were. I mean nothing lurid.

Rivers: Were there pretty girls?

Minetti: Absolutely, sometimes pretty girls, yes.

Rivers: The court documents and the press portray this idea that the parties sort of descended into orgies.

Minetti: Absolutely not. This is not how the evenings used to finish. I mean in any way, absolutely no. There is a music group, let's call it, in which there can be some soft music rather than modern music. I would not absolutely describe it as a night club in any way, no way.

Rivers: In some of the wire tap information you were quoted as saying "he' s ruined my life." What did you mean by that?

Minetti: At the telephone you could say anything. Sometimes you are angry, sometimes you speak to the person close to you and you let go some confidences. I remember that there was some situation in particular when I went to a library, and I was with my parents, and I found this Italian book that has been wrote a couple of months ago, and it is a very nasty book. It is called "mignotocrazia" (whorecracy), which in Italian is a very nasty word. And I remember opening this book and there was this chapter on me and obviously describing me as a person I do not recognize. And I remember I was speaking on the phone with my assistant, with whom I am very close to. I'm very close to her. She is like a friend of mine. And I remember saying that I was angry about this book and I don't remember what I said exactly. I supposed I just sort of let out these words. But I don't absolutely think in any way that he ruined my life. It is rather the opposite I suppose.

Rivers: Another one of the quotes: "You see all sorts of things in these parties.."

Minetti: No absolutely. I remember this phone call with a friend of mine, which actually was a friend when I was younger. She went to school with me. And what I meant was that is not as you can expect. What I was trying to tell her was that it is not what you think. It is not, how can I say, a rigid environment ... it is very ... how can I say, a happy situation where there is many people, many types of people. That's really what I meant. Then As I said before, I'm 25 years old. Sometime when I am on the phone with a friend of mine I use words that are not exactly what I'm trying to say and that's because I'm young. That's because young people very often use words that are not exact or words as you can say are slang. That is what we call it, slang type of words.

Rivers: There is another quote as well. "The parties were like a brothel in which everyone entertains themselves."

Minetti: No, no, absolutely not no, no. I don't remember using those words. No absolutely not.

Rivers: You are being investigated for procuring women for the prime minister. Just for the records now, what is your side of that allegation?

Minetti: I don't want to get too much into the investigation because I'm very respectable of what is going on. So I don't want to get too much into it.

Rivers: But you would deny in any way finding prostitutes?

Minetti: Absolutely yes, I would deny that. Absolutely yes.

Rivers: Were you introducing friends to the prime minister?

Minetti: Well it came out that I introduced a friend of mine who was a student. She was a double graduate. And I supposed that I thought that it would been nice for her getting to know the prime minister of Italy. I think that was very much it. She is interested in politics.

Rivers: But not for any other reason?

Minetti: Absolutely not, no no in any way... absolutely not. no

Rivers: There was another piece of evidence presented in these papers which presented you as dancing topless in a uniform, have you ever been topless in the presence of the prime minister.

Minetti: No I haven't (laughs). I'm laughing because it seems it's very much laughable. That is all I can say. No absolutely not.

Rivers: So you are painting a very different picture of these evenings than the ones that are being put into the court documents. What about the massive evidence -- almost 400 pages of evidence that the prosecutors are saying clearly shows the prime minister involved with orgies, with prostitutes, that kind of thing?

Minetti: No. As I've said before that is not my job. I'm not here to judge. I mean that's not my position. All I can say is what I saw. That is all I can say.

Rivers: Did you introduce this young Morrocan girl.

Minetti: No. absolutely not. No.

Rivers: So you weren't the one that introduced her to the prime minister?

Minetti: No, no, no. No it wasn't me.

Rivers: Do you know her?

Minetti: I know her. I don't know who introduced her though.

Rivers: How do you know her?

Minetti: I met her at some dinners at Arcore. And then I met her again on the night of the 27th of May when I went to the Italian questura [police station] to get her.

Rivers: So you would deny completely any kind of suggestion that you were the prime agent that introduced a lot of these women?

Minetti: Yes, I deny that.

Rivers: What about the suggestion for example that a man, Ramirez de la Rosa, was found in car that was registered under your name with a large quantity of drugs?

Minetti: Yes the car was mine. I lent my car to a friend of mine. And I couldn't have known that she would lend the car to another person. I mean. I was away. I was on vacation with my boyfriend. I was in the Seychelles so I couldn't have known that she was lending my car to somebody else when I was on vacation. They called me and they told me that the car had had some problems. But even after, I never knew what the truth was. I never actually got to know that the car was found with some drugs, or things like that. So I suppose that is it.

Rivers: What was your reaction when you heard that you were being investigated?

Minetti: Obviously I was very surprised because I got to know this by the papers. And it was the very first week of November and one morning I woke up and I read the papers and there was this news. At first I was very surprised. I was shocked I would say because you don't think that something could happen like this. And my next reaction was obviously to get a lawyer. And I got my lawyer.

Rivers: Some people would say that you got your job in the regional assembly here because of your looks, because you are favored by Silvio Berlusconi. What would you say to that?

Minetti: I would deny that. I mean it is true that I graduated with the maximum of votes. I know English very well. I suppose that Silvio Berlusconi saw something in me. Maybe. I mean in life sometimes even luck ... in some ways. I mean there are many things. Sometimes you just meet the right people in the right places at the right time. I suppose he believed in me. That is something that I'm going to fight for. And I want to stand up for this, absolutely.

Rivers: You had an earlier career as a sort of TV dancer. Do you regret that now?

Minetti: No, absolutely not. I had the time of my life. It was a couple of years ago. My mom has a dancing school in Rimini. A big dancing school and I did ballet for like 10 years. Ballet and modern dancing. So when I came up to Milan, I thought that during my studies I could work as well but obviously trying to do both things together is not easy. I mean you have to go hospital. Work. Study. So the job that could let me study as well was the television dancer because I use to work at night, from 8 o'clock to one o'clock in the morning. And then during the morning I could go to university and to my study.

Rivers: What is your relationship with Lele Mora?

Minetti: I know him. I know him. He is good guy. I'm not close to him. He is not somebody that I hear everyday, but yes I know him. He is a very good guy.

Rivers: And how do you know him? From your days when you worked in TV?

Minetti: No. no. no. I never got to work for him when I was doing TV shows. I met him later on, I think. I don't remember where.

Rivers: And Emilio Fede?

Minetti: Emilio Fede? I know him as well. He is a great guy. I don't remember where I met him but I know him. Yes, I know him.

Rivers: The suggestions are that the three of you were in some ways the gang. You know that?

Minetti: Yeah as I've said it's a suggestion. So we'll see how the things go?

Rivers: But you would completely deny that?

The great thing about him (Silvio Berlusconi) is that he believes a lot in young people. He is not afraid of believing and investing in young people.
--Nicole Minetti
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Minetti: Absolutely, yes.

Rivers: And in terms of Silvio Berlusconi himself, his character ... what kind of man is he? I mean the image that is in the press is very tarnished recently. You know him? What is he like?

Minetti: He is a great man. I mean he is a really great man. He is generous. He is good. Good in the heart. I don't know how ... he is a really good man. If he can help somebody, he does it. He doesn't think twice about it. And this is the result. I mean he really helps people just to help people. Without having anything back. And the great thing about him is that he believes a lot in young people. He is not afraid of believing and investing in young people.

Rivers: Did he invest in you? Did he give you money?

Minetti: No, no! I wouldn't say that investing in somebody is meaning that you give money to someone. Investing, I mean, believing in someone. If you mean he invested in me. Yes! Because he believes in me. Because he gave me a great opportunity, how can I say, of emerging and doing something for my nation, for Italy.

Rivers: So you would deny ever having received money from Silvio Berlusconi?

Minetti: Well, he helped me in some situations. He doesn't have any problems helping people in an economic way. When I had some problems since I had an effective relationship with him, he didn't have any problems in helping me.

Rivers: How much money did he give you?

Minetti: That is a detail which I woudn't go into. (Rivers: Thousands of euros? Nicole nods her head) That doesn't matter ... that is not the matter.

Rivers: Well, some people would say that it does matter because it would suggest that he was either paying for your services or paying to keep you quiet?

Minetti: Or he was helping me because he cared for me? It could be one thing or the other.

Rivers: The suggestion that you were sort of managing apartments? How would you describe your relationship with Silvio Berlusconi?

Minetti: I had an affectionate relationship, meaning someone that you care for and cares for you.

Rivers: But not an improper relationship or a sexual relationship?

Minetti: I wouldn't go into those details. Those are private details.

Rivers: Do you think that it is fair that he enjoys the company of young beautiful women as it is portrayed in the press?

Minetti: He enjoys any kind of company. He likes being around people.

Rivers: But it goes no further than that?

Minetti: Absolutely not.

Rivers: When did you find out Ruby's age?

Minetti: The night that I went to the Questura, the 27th of May. Yes. She had told us that she was 24 years old. And that wasn't hard to believe because she seems much older than what she is. Yes.

Rivers: Do you think that the prime minister knew her real age.

Minetti: Absolutely no. He did not know her real age. Not by any chance.

Rivers: What was his interest in her. Why was she even friends with him?

Minetti: Well, I wouldn't describe their relationship as friends. I mean he just helped a person that was in need. She had several problems. She had described herself as a very problematic girl that had several problems during the life. She was Moroccan and she had told us that she was Egyptian. And I remember detail where she had shown us some scarfs that she told us her father had done these scarfs to her with some boiling oil because she wanted to become Christian and instead her family was Muslim.

Rivers: The prime minister said he thought she was the niece of (Egyptian) President (Hosni) Mubarak. Is that something that you thought as well?

Minetti: No no (Rivers: You've not heard that?) I haven't heard this. No. no.

Rivers: So she never portrayed herself to you in any way connected to Hosni Mubarak?

Minetti: No no.

Rivers: So was that a surprise when that was suggested by the prime minister that that was the reason he intervened in her arrest?

Minetti: I've had never heard the story before.

Rivers: And you were there the night that she was arrested?

Minetti: Yes. I was called yes. After. Yes.

Rivers: What happened that evening. What did you do?

Minetti: I was called by a friend of hers whom I had never met before ... this Brazilian girl. I can't remember where she took my number from. I suppose from the girl's cellphone and then I was called by the president who asked me to go to Questura because there was this problem with this girl who had been stopped because a friend of hers had called the police for some clothes, I seem to remember. Ssomething like that.

It just seem like a little quarrel with some girls. That is what I thought. So when I went to Questura, I remember there was this Brazilian girl that told me that 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 Questura until 2 o'clock in the morning because obviously she didn't have any ID and the police were trying to find the ID at her parent's home in Sicily in Litoiani. So it was a very long procedure. And in the end at 2 o'clock in the morning the police let her go. But I had to sign for her. And that is how the things went that evening. More or less.

Rivers: Did the prime minister call you during this process?

Minetti: Yes. Yes. 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 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 overnight.

Rivers: How did the prime minister seem to you? How did he appear on the phone to you?

Minetti: He was very, how can I say, tranquil. Tranquillo.

Rivers: So there was no sense that he told you that ... did he give you a message to give to Ruby or something like that?

Minetti: No, no no no. Absolutely not. No messages. No.

Rivers: It appears that he also called the police chief at the time. Did he mention that to you?

Minetti: No absolutely no. he didn't' mention anything like that.

Rivers: So he didn't seem panic or anything like that?

Minetti: Absolutely not. No panic. No.

Rivers: And just to reiterate. He was concerned for her. Why?

Minetti: Because she was a girl in need.

Rivers: Well, there are a lots of people in need, why particulary her?

Minetti: I suppose because I've met her before. If you met someone and this someone at some point has any type of need and needs help. That is why he was concerned.

Rivers: Would you describe them as close friends?

Minetti: No, absolutely not. Not close friends.

Rivers: And it doesn't' seem strange that he called at such a late hour

Minetti: No. it doesn't seem strange. No.

Rivers: What kind of support has he given you since all this story broke? Has he called you? Have you talked to him recently?

Minetti: No. I haven't heard from him recently. But I know that he supports me and I know that I support him.

Rivers: So there hasn't been any falling out with him?

Minetti: Absolutely not.

 
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