Feb. 16, 2011 -- When Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi appears in court this spring to defend himself against charges that he paid to have sex with a minor, the prosecution's star witness will be an 18-year-old Moroccan girl with a tantalizing monicker -- Ruby the Heartbreaker.
Ruby may also be a career breaker.
Berlusconi, who at 74 is one of Italy's richest men and certainly one of the most flamboyant, is trying to live up to his nickname of Il Cavalieri.
"I am not worried in the least," the prime minister said today.
Ruby doesn't seem too worried either and appears to be basking in the spotlight. According to Britain's Daily Mail, she is planning to pen a book about her relationship with the prime minister.
What is known of her story so far includes being a runaway who danced in nightclubs before she emerged at the center of Italy's biggest scandal in a generation. The story is studded with stories of being a relative to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, an arrest for theft, and lavish "bunga bunga" parties with a naked prime minister.
Karima el-Mahroug, also known as Karima Keyek, but best known as Ruby the Heartbreaker, is now 18.
But she told prosecutors in Milan last year that the prime minister showered her with thousands of dollars worth of cash and jewelry and invited her to two sex parties at a time when she was only 17.
For all of the lurid allegations Ruby has made, she has consistently denied that she ever had sex with Berlusconi. In interviews with the media and investigators Ruby has said the only money she ever received from the prime minister were gifts to help her out financially and not money for sexual favors.
She also admits she lied about her age, telling the prime minister she was 24.
"He knew that I was 24 years old because I told everyone that I was 24 years old," Ruby told Italian news station Sky TG24. "I didn't want people to know that I was a minor."
The Ruby at the Center of the Berlusconi Scandal
When asked if she had sex with Berlusconi, she replied: "Absolutely no."
"It the first time in my life that a man has not tried to take me to bed. He behaved like a father, I swear," she told the newspaper La Repubblica last year.
It's not clear how a Moroccan runaway and club dancer got to know the prime minister. She has said she was abused as a child, ran away from an orphanage and became a dancer in an Italian nightclub.
"I just arrived in Milan, and it was a little difficult living there," she said. She told the Sky TG24 that Berlusconi took pity on her and gave her some money to help her out financially.
A friend "spoke with [Berlusconi] and explained my situation, my story, my family situation," she said. "And he helped me."
At one point Ruby became the ward of Nicole Minetti, a former showgirl turned politician in Berlusconi's party.
Berlusconi is accused of paying teenager Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby the Heartbreaker.
Ruby described one encounter with Berlusconi at a "bunga bunga," a kind of orgy in his Milan mansion that she claims the prime minister 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.
Berlusconi's relationship with Ruby became public last year, when it emerged that the prime minister had intervened when police arrested her for theft. Berlusconi is accused of calling the police in March and sending Minetti to intervene. Minetti is also under investigation.
Berlusconi reportedly told the police Ruby was Mubarak's niece. The Egyptian embassy in Rome denied the relationship.
Ruby the Heartbreaker Attended Berlusconi's Orgies
The premier has admitted to calling the police on Ruby's behalf, but claims he did so because she was an underprivileged girl in trouble.
Berlusconi has denied the accusations since they emerged late last year. He has called the investigation and indictment against him "groundless" and a "farce."