Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images
Moroccan-born dancer Karima El-Mahrough, nicknamed "Ruby the Heart Stealer," shakes hands with Austrian entrepreneur Richard Lugner, her date for the Vienna Opera Ball.
Moroccan-born dancer Karima El-Mahrough, nicknamed "Ruby the Heart Stealer," shakes hands with Austrian entrepreneur Richard Lugner, her date for the Vienna Opera Ball. Samuel Kubani/AFP/Getty Images
Karima El-Mahrough, the Moroccan teenager linked to the sex scandal involving Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, will attend the highlight event of Vienna's social season Thursday night, along with a millionaire who is reportedly paying her $55,000 to be his guest.
The news that Mahrough — also known as Ruby Rubacuori, or "Ruby Heartstealer" — would come to the Vienna Opera Ball as the date of Richard Lugner has brought both excitement and trepidation to those attending the ball.
The ball will include formal processions of debutantes and choreographed waltzes. But Mahrough says she doesn't think she'll be on the dance floor for long.
"I can't waltz," she said at a news conference. "I can only belly dance."
From Rome, Sylvia Poggioli filed this Newscast report:
Last month, Berlusconi was indicted on charges he paid for sex with Ruby when she was 17.
The head of state TV has ordered reporters to avoid mentioning her, and one of the organizers is fielding calls from prominent ball-goers asking how they can avoid being photographed near the teenager.
One of Ruby's supporters is the head priest of Vienna's cathedral, Father Toni Farber.
Warning against hypocrisy, he says, 'Tax collectors and prostitutes will go to heaven ahead of you.'
According to Reuters, Vienna Ball organizer Desiree Treichl-Stuergkh said that Lugner's choice to bring Mahrough guest was "sad, shameful and impious." She went on to say that Ruby was a tragic victim.