Berlusconi prostitution probe widens in Italy

Berlusconi prostitution probe widens in Italy
# 28 January 2011 01:15 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. A parliamentary committee in Italy examined 200 more pages of documents Thursday assembled by prosecutors investigating Premier Silvio Berlusconi on suspicion he paid for sex with a 17-year-old Moroccan girl, APA reports quoting The Associated Press.
The documents include references to another minor, a Brazilian, who allegedly received jewels and other gifts in exchange for her participation at parties at a Berlusconi villa, according to Italian news agency LaPresse and other news reports.
The revelations that another minor might have been at some of Berlusconi’s parties widens the probe and potentially adds to the 74-year-old leader’s woes. Berlusconi has denied ever paying for sex and called the allegations against him "outrageous."
Milan prosecutors sent the additional documentation from their investigation to the parliamentary committee to back up their request to search some of Berlusconi’s properties. The prosecutors had already provided almost 400 pages of documents and alleged evidence against Berlusconi last week.
In addition to being premier, Berlusconi is a member of the lower house of parliament. The house’s members enjoy parliamentary immunity from arrest or searches in criminal probes, unless the committee decides otherwise on a case-by-case basis.
A decision on whether to authorize the searches might come Thursday.
The new documents reportedly include wiretaps of conversations between the young women who attended Berlusconi’s parties, alleged evidence of payments to them and reports from police searches conducted earlier this month at some of the women’s homes.
The most potentially dangerous revelations involve the Brazilian woman. The documents list necklaces, bracelets, pendants and other jewels she allegedly received "in exchange for her repeated participation at parties at Berlusconi’s villas," according to excerpts of the documents cited by LaPresse and seen by The Associated Press. The materials were seized during a Jan. 14 search at the woman’s home.
The documents also say the woman was at a Berlusconi villa on Nov. 22, 2009, according to LaPresse. The ANSA news agency said the woman is known to investigators to be a prostitute and that she also was at Berlusconi’s villa in Arcore, near Milan, on Dec. 13, 2009.
The documents reportedly cite several other dates in which the Brazilian was allegedly at Berlusconi’s villas. But those two are more significant because the woman, who was reportedly born on Dec. 29, 1991, was then a minor.
Paying for sex with a prostitute is not a crime in Italy, unless the prostitute is under 18.
The documents also include purported conversations between a Berlusconi associate also under investigation in the case, Nicole Minetti, and a friend, in which Minetti insults Berlusconi and accuses him of having dragged her into "a mess."
Minetti, a former showgirl and dental hygienist recently elected at a local post with Berlusconi’s party, told Corriere della Sera on Thursday that she was just venting in a moment of rage, and that the premier remains her "point of reference."
Berlusconi has repeatedly denied the allegations against him and accused the prosecutors of mounting politically motivated probes to drive him from office. Amid news reports that his parties involve topless girls and sexually-enticing dancing, he has insisted the dinner parties at his villas are elegant and proper affairs and that he has nothing to be ashamed of.
The Moroccan girl at the center of the probe, known as Ruby, also has denied sexual relations with the premier. But the girl, who has in the meantime turned 18, said Berlusconi gave her euro7,000 ($9,400) to help her out financially. She has said that when she was introduced to Berlusconi, she told him she was 24.