After years of accusations, the hard-to-embarass Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may finally be embroiled in a sex scandal so provocative, he can't simply smile his way out of it.
After surviving one sex scandal last year, for which his wife called him "shameless" and filed for divorce, Berlusconi now stands accused by a 17-year-old prostitute of organizing a ritual Libyan orgy called a "bunga bunga" that included 20 naked women at his villa in Milan.
Karima el-Mahroug, also known as Karima Keyek, but best known as Ruby the Heartbreaker, recently told Milanese prosecutors that the prime minister had showered her with over $1,300 worth of cash and jewelry and invited her to two sex parties, including the bunga bunga.
Ruby, now 18, described bunga bunga as a kind of orgy that she claims Berlusconi learned about from Libyan dictator Muammar Kaddafi. At the orgy, she said, Berlusconi was naked and surrounded by some 20 nude women, according to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
The Moroccan girl denies having sex with the prime minister.
"Silvio told me that he'd copied that formula from Muammar Khaddafi," she told prosecutors according to La Repubblica. "It's a ritual of [Kaddafi's] African harem."
According to the paper, Berlusconi also called Milan police to try to help the teen when cops arrested her on an unrelated robbery charge. At the time, she told the police she was the niece of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a claim the Egyptian embassy in Rome has denied.
Berlusconi has admitted to calling the police on Ruby's behalf, but claims he did so because she was an underprivileged girl in trouble.
The age of consent in Italy is 14, and it is unlikely that Berlusconi will face any legal charges, but already the premier's carefully constructed political alliance is beginning to crack.
Berlusconi, 74, is the third richest man in Italy and the country's longest serving prime minister in modern history. He has long gotten away with accusations of extramarital dalliances with little more than a shrug from his constituents and allies.
This latest allegations, however, has resulted in a rift in the ruling party he founded and the first serious rumblings that support for the dapper prime minister whose unruffled demeanor earned him the nickname "Il Cavalieri" or "The Knight" may be slipping.
On Sunday, onetime ally Gianfranco Fini urged the premier to step down.
"We can't go on this way," Fini told supporters at a rally his Freedom and Future Party. "This chapter is over — or it's about to be."
Fini urged Berlusconi to "make the decision to offer his resignation."
"The premier has the honor and the burden to say if he intends to open a new phase, with a new agenda and new program, discussing and taking note of other people's opinions," Fini said at the rally. "If he has the courage ... we'll do our part."
Berlusconi, a center-right billionaire who owns several Italian television stations and has earned a reputation as a playboy, last year found himself in the midst of a similar scandal when prostitute Patrizia D'Addario went public with descriptions of similar orgies.
Berlusconi, who changed Italian election law so voters elect a party and not an individual, has a reputation for packing his party's seats in Parliament with women who his critics concede are beautiful but claim are unqualified.