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Prosecutors: Berlusconi had many prostitutes

Updated: 2011-01-19 08:00

By Frances D' Emilio (China Daily)

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ROME - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi had sex with a significant number of prostitutes, Milan prosecutors alleged on Monday in documents seeking authorization to search some of his properties.

The prosecutors are leading a probe aimed at determining if the 74-year-old media mogul paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl nicknamed Ruby who attended parties at one of his villas last year. Prostitution isn't a crime in Italy, but exploiting or aiding prostitution with minors is.

The prosecutors alleged in documents examined by a parliamentary committee on Monday that Berlusconi had sex with a "significant" number of young female prostitutes and used apartments to compensate the women, along with cash payments.

Berlusconi has denied wrongdoing and Ruby has said she never had sex with him.

The scandal, which exploded on Friday with word that Berlusconi was under investigation, gained momentum on Monday with the arrival in parliament of a nearly 400-page dossier from prosecutors on the case.

And it was having political implications, with one of Berlusconi's party leaders, Fabrizio Cicchitto, raising the prospect of early elections if the already weakened government can't muster more parliamentary support.

The prosecutors asked the Chamber of Deputies to authorize a search of offices in a residential complex near Milan that belong to Berlusconi, who is both a member of the Chamber and premier. Members of the Chamber enjoy parliamentary immunity, including from arrest or searches in criminal probes, unless a Chamber committee decides otherwise on a case-by-case basis.

The Chamber posted the prosecutors' request on its website on Monday.

The teen, now 18, has said she was among a bevy of young women invited to parties at Berlusconi's Arcore villa near Milan. She has said in a TV interview that the premier last year gave her 7,000 euros ($9,000) to help her financially.

Prosecutors want police to search an apartment complex in Segrate, near Milan, which includes the offices they alleged could contain documentation that young women were given money and rent-free apartments - in another residential complex - by Berlusconi in compensation for prostitution.

In the request, Prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberati wrote that one of the premier's lawyers said the offices are part of Berlusconi's property and thus enjoy parliamentary immunity from searches.

Prosecutors alleged in their request that these parties were a cover for prostitution, and that besides the rent-free arrangement, cash payments doled out by a go-between compensated the prostitutes.

Liberati alleged that three close associates of the premier "continuously carried out an activity of inducing and abetting prostitution", by selecting and accompanying to Berlusconi's various residences, a "significant number of young women, who prostituted themselves with Silvio Berlusconi, receiving payment of money" from him.

Associated Press

(China Daily 01/19/2011 page12)


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