Laurent Dubrule / Reuters
Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives for a meeting of the European People's Party (EPP) ahead of an informal EU leaders summit in Brussels on May 23.
ROME — Throughout his political career, Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi collected almost as many nicknames as he did gaffes and lawsuits.
Comedian Beppe Grillo once famously called him a "psycho dwarf," poking fun at his height — 5 feet, 5 inches, according to most sources.
An editorialist for the Italian daily La Repubblica once called him "The Caiman" — a term for crocodiles — to underline his predatory nature. That nickname was also used for the title of a film by Italian director Nanni Moretti, in which he skewered the former prime minister.
Then came "Papi" — Italian for "Daddy" — the nickname teenager Noemi Letizia used to call Berlusconi, who famously attended her 18th birthday party before his wife finally left him saying she could no longer be with a man who "consorts with minors."
In a court in Milan on Friday, testimony added another nickname to the roster: "Betty."
That is what Barbara Faggioli, one of the showgirls who attended Berlusconi’s controversial dinners accused of leading to wild after-parties in which prostitution was rife, said she used to call him.
Faggioli took the stand in the ongoing hearing in Milan in which prosecutors are trying to establish if Berlusconi paid for sex with an under-aged prostitute known as "Ruby The Heart Stealer" during one of the now infamous after-dinner parties known as "bunga bunga."
She defended the former prime minister and claimed that no sex was ever exchanged in return for the generous presents Berlusconi would hand out to the many girls attending his parties. But when Faggioli was called to clarify some of the wiretapped conversations in which she was featured, she explained she used "code names" when talking about Berlusconi with other girls.
Berlusconi, she explained, was "Betty." And money, often paid out by the former Italian prime minister to women as "gifts," were called "shoes."
Despite the fact that Faggioli tried to make things better for him by defending Berlusconi in court, she made it worse by claiming that she thought of him as a father, casting an immediate shadow over the whole category in Italy.
In all fairness to Italian fathers, most are not accused of showering their "girls" with money and gifts or of staging alleged shows with women dressed in skimpy clothes, sometimes dressed as sexy nuns.
Faggioli even wore an expensive necklace that she admitted was given to her by Berlusconi as a present. It was, apparently, her way to prove to judges, and Italy, that she had nothing to hide.
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