February 21, 2011 / 11:08 AM / 9 years ago

Dancer in Berlusconi case may grace Vienna ball

Karima El Mahroug of Morocco, known as Ruby, poses during a photocall at the Paradiso (Paradise) disco in Rimini, Adriatic coast, January 30, 2011. REUTERS/ Stringer

VIENNA (Reuters) - The nightclub dancer at the center of a political storm in Italy involving Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is set to be the star guest at Vienna’s famed Opera Ball this year, a spokesman for her host said.

Karima el Mahroug — an 18-year-old dancer known by her stage name Ruby Rubacuori (Ruby Heartstealer) — will be the special guest of Vienna construction magnate and social lion Richard Lugner, his spokesman said on Monday.

“We have received an e-mail confirmation from her that she has agreed to the terms. The contract should be drawn up in Italian today,” the spokesman said, declining to give any details about how much she will earn for her appearance.

Ruby has become a focus of an investigation into Berlusconi, who has been ordered to stand trial in April on charges of paying an underage girl for sex and abusing his position to get her out of police custody.

Lugner, 78, has had many a beauty on his arm for the glittering Opera Ball, the highlight of Vienna’s ball season which is being held on March 3.

Paris Hilton, Dita von Teese and Sophia Loren have been his guests, although Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan dropped out last year and actress Bo Derek failed to agree on terms this year.

Ruby has told newspapers that she attended parties at Berlusconi’s residence three times and said they were “normal dinners” with lots of food, laughter and jokes.

She denies she had sex with Berlusconi, but says he gave her 7,000 euros ($9,586) since she was in financial trouble.

Reporting by Michael Shields, editing by Paul Casciato

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