Fresh allegations in Berlusconi sex scandal
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Last Updated: Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 16:55
  
Rome: Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may have told a businessman to lie to investigators about paying call girls to attend parties he hosted, the Ansa news agency said Tuesday.

The businessman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, is on trial accused of having spent nearly 30,000 euros (USD 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 may be questioned about claims that he asked Tarantini to make false declarations in the call girl 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 in the case.

According to reports, the probe has found that Tarantini paid about 30 young women to spend evenings with Berlusconi at his private residences in Rome or Arcore, near Milan, between July 2008 and April 2009.

The businessman allegedly paid those who spend the night in the prime minister's bed 1,000 euros, and newspapers quoted telephone taps as indicating that Berlusconi also gave some of them 100 euro bills in envelopes.

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 (USD 1.2 million) from Berlusconi to lie to prosecutors about the parties.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 16:55


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