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Berlusconi scandal: associate apologizes

A BUSINESSMAN who recruited young women to attend parties at Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi's homes has apologized to the premier for causing a scandal.

Giampaolo Tarantini also said in a statement late last Saturday to Italian new agency ANSA that he only reimbursed the women for their travel and expenses, refuting suggestions that he paid the women, reportedly including a high-end prostitute, to attend.

Tarantini has been at the center of new allegations concerning Berlusconi's purported fondness for younger women. The scandal began weeks ago when the premier's wife, Veronica Lario, cited Berlusconi's selection of young starlets and showgirls for European Parliament elections in announcing she was divorcing him.

Since then, Berlusconi has fended off allegations he had an improper relationship with an 18-year-old model and hosted showgirls and escorts at his parties who were paid to attend.

Three women have told Italian newspapers that at Tarantini's invitation they attended parties at the premier's residence.

The first, Patrizia D'Addario, described by her friends as a high-end prostitute from Bari, told Corriere della Sera last week that she was paid 1,000 euros (US$1,400) to attend a party in October 2008 at the premier's residence in Rome, and then returned November 4 and stayed the night.

Tarantini said he invited the women to the parties because he wanted to present a "bella figura" - a good impression - to Berlusconi, whom he had only recently met.


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