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September 10, 2009

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Berlusconi hit with new sex scandal allegations

REPORTS that 30 women attended 18 parties hosted by Silvio Berlusconi and some were paid to have sex with guests have added to the Italian leader's problems at a time of speculation that his grip on power may be weakening.

The 72-year-old prime minister is already being forced to counter talk that his 15-year-old domination of Italian politics could be brought to an end by the sex scandals besetting him since May, which have angered the Catholic Church.

A Cabinet source said there was no comment on the reports yesterday in Corriere della Sera and La Stampa - two respected Italian dailies - suggesting Berlusconi indulged his taste for young women on a larger scale than hitherto suspected.

His lawyer was not immediately available for comment.

The conservative leader, whose wife triggered the crisis in May by seeking divorce and accusing him of "frequenting minors" such as a teenage girl in Naples, denies that he paid for sex. His lawyer famously said Berlusconi was only "the end user."

Corriere and La Stampa cited newly-leaked evidence from a court case in Bari, southern Italy, concerning the activities of businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini.

They said women were paid expenses to attend the parties and 1,000 euros extra "for sexual services," naming public figures among the guests and a reality-TV star among the paid escorts.

"I introduced them as my friends and kept quiet that I was sometimes paying them," Tarantini was quoted as saying.

The Bari case has already revealed that prostitute Patrizia D'Addario was paid by Tarantini to sleep with Berlusconi.

She taped explicit conversations on her cellphone and went public when promises like a European Parliament seat went unfulfilled.


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