Fresh allegations in Berlusconi sex scandal

ROME — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may have told a businessman to lie to investigators about paying callgirls to attend parties he hosted, the Ansa news agency said Tuesday.

By (AFP)

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Published: Tue 27 Sep 2011, 1:09 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 2:02 AM

The businessman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, is on trial accused of having spent nearly 30,000 euros ($41,000) on recruiting dozens of women for Berlusconi’s private parties in 2008 and 2009 in order to win lucrative contracts.

Quoting a decision by a Naples court, Ansa said Berlusconi could be questioned about claims that he asked Tarantini to make false declarations in the callgirl probe.

This could lead to a full investigation against the prime minister, the agency said.

The trial of Tarantini and eight others in Bari, southern Italy, has not directly implicated Berlusconi in anything illegal. The renting of prostitutes is not illegal in Italy and Berlusconi has so far only been a witness the case.

The 74-year-old premier already faces a string of legal cases, including one in which he is accused of having paid for sex with a nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, nicknamed ‘Ruby the Heart Stealer’, when she was a minor.

He is also accused of having abused his power to spring her from police custody when she was arrested on suspicion of theft.

The next hearing in that case is set for October 3.

Tarantini has been in custody since September 1 accused of extorting 850,000 euros ($1.2 million) from Berlusconi to lie to prosecutors about the parties.

The court in that case this month asked to hear from Berlusconi as the ‘victim’ in the alleged blackmail case.

But the billionaire tycoon has said he gave the money as a gift to help a friend in need, and has refused to appear before the Naples judges.



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