'Bunga bunga' girl goes missing

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 09:02 hrs

London: Italian police has ordered to launch a search operation for the erotic dancer at the centre of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's sex scandal trial after she failed to turn up for a hearing in court on Monday.

Karima El Mahroug, whom Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex when she was an alleged underage prostitute, was due to testify at the trial in Milan.

But the woman better known by her stage name as 'Ruby the Heart Stealer' failed to appear as scheduled and did not send any explanation for her absence, the Telegraph reports.

According to the report, El Mahroug's lawyer said she had no idea where she was.

"I tried reaching her but her mobile phone is off, as is her boyfriend's. She sent me a text saying she was abroad but I have no information about this trip and I don't know when she will return," Paola Boccardi, the lawyer, said.

El Mahroug is just the latest of several witnesses for the defence not to show up for scheduled appearances, including some of Berlusconi's former ministers and George Clooney, whose lawyers said he never received a request to appear, the report said.

The presiding judge in the case ordered police to search for the Moroccan-born former dancer "throughout the national territory" and the trial was adjourned to Dec 17.

El Mahroug has denied that she ever slept with Berlusconi, 76, although she has admitted that, like many other women at his "bunga bunga" parties, she accepted large cash payments from him.

Berlusconi, who is also accused of abuse of office in the trial, denies any wrongdoing, the report added.

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