Rome: Opposition leaders demanded an inquiry
on Saturday to see if Italian government aircraft flew a bevy of
young escorts to Premier Silvio Berlusconi's private parties.
Concern was also growing in Italy over whether the
billionaire media mogul premier who allegedly boasted in an
intercepted phone conversation that he "did only eight" women
in one night can concentrate on rescuing Italy from its severe
Italian newspapers today were filled with transcripts of
intercepted phone conversations of a jailed southern
businessman, Gianpaolo Tarantini, who is being investigated
for allegedly arranging and paying for women to prostitute
themselves with the premier at parties at Berlusconi's private
residences in Rome, the Sardinia seacoast, and near Milan.
Intercepted conversations that are part of investigations
may be published once they are officially deposited in the
court, in this case, in Bari, southeast Italy.
Berlusconi, who turns 75 later this month, has denied
ever paying for sex. But he has boasted of his weakness for
young, beautiful women, an inclination cited by his second
wife, who is divorcing him.
Prostitution is not a crime in Italy, but exploiting
prostitutes, as Tarantini is alleged to have done to try to
curry favors with Berlusconi to win state contracts, is. In a
separate probe, Tarantini is jailed for allegedly extorting
hundreds of thousands of dollars from Berlusconi. The premier
says he gave Tarantini and Tarantini's wife, who was also
arrested, money because he is a generous man who was trying to
help a "family in need."
First Published: Sunday, September 18, 2011, 00:19