A former model and waitress who testified at Silvio Berlusconi’s sex trial may have died after coming into contact with a radioactive substance, it was reported yesterday, deepening the mystery surrounding a case that has gripped Italy.
Moroccan-born Imane Fadil, 33, died in a Milan hospital on March 1, a month after being admitted with unexplained stomach pains and claiming she might have been poisoned.
Ms Fadil was one of the witnesses who testified at the trial of the former Italian prime minister and media mogul on charges of having sex with an underage prostitute at one of his notoriously hedonistic “bunga bunga” parties.
In January, on one of the last occasions she gave evidence in court, she said she had paid a heavy price for coming forward and that “the truth would come out” in a book she was writing.
“I have always told the truth and I’ve rejected many attempts to corrupt me by Berlusconi and his entourage,” she said “This whole saga started when I was 25 and now I’m 34. I have suffered a great deal compared to those who let themselves be paid off.”
According to Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily, Humanitas hospital in Rozzano, Milan, had run a battery of tests to determine the cause of her failing health, but finding nothing, had sent off samples to a specialised laboratory in the northern town of Pavia.
The results came back on March 6, five days after her death, suggesting the presence of “a mixture of radioactive substances which are not normally available for purchase”, the paper said, citing unnamed sources.
Francesco Greco, Milan prosecutor, said she had been admitted exhibiting “symptoms of poisoning.”
He said that the hospital did not report Ms Fadil’s complaints or symptoms while she was being treated and said prosecutors were only informed of the former model’s death when her lawyer reported it.
Paolo Sevesi, Ms Fadil’s lawyer, said she had spoken to him about “her fear of having been poisoned.”
A post mortem is to be carried out this week with results expected on Wednesday or Thursday.
Ms Fadil first hit the headlines in 2012 when she gave detailed testimony about the goings on at Mr Berlusconi’s orgiastic parties at his villa in Arcore near Milan.
She testified that the first time she went to a party, she saw two young women in nun costumes stripping in front of the then prime minister. Later, she said he himself handed her 2,000 euros (£1,700) in cash, telling her: “Don’t be offended.”
Mr Berlusconi has faced a string of charges over the so-called Rubygate scandal linked to his parties and the underaged prostitute Karima el-Mahroug, also known as “Ruby the heart-stealer”.
She had reportedly been telling friends recently that she had “many things to reveal.”
A lawyer who represents two other young women who gave evidence against Mr Berlusconi, Ambra Battilana and Chiara Danese, called the death “strange and extraordinary”.
Mauro Rufini said prosecutors needed to get to the bottom of it as quickly as possible.
Now 82, the billionaire businessman is currently on trial for paying a witness to give false testimony about his parties.
Mr Berlusconi is already being investigated or prosecuted for witness tampering in Milan, Siena, Rome and Turin, each time for allegedly paying people to keep quiet about his bunga bunga parties.
He said he was saddened by Ms Fadil’s death but claimed he never knew the model. “It’s always very sad when someone as young as this dies,” he said. “I never met this person and never spoke to her.”
He said he was aware that she had claimed his gatherings were sex parties, but said such allegations were “invented and absurd.”