Tuesday 23 May 2017

Berlusconi caught boasting of sexual exploits on tape

Tom Kington in Rome

MAGISTRATES investigating an alleged prostitution ring in Italy have published wiretaps in which Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi boasts of spending the night with eight women and complains that meetings with foreign heads of government and the Pope were interfering with his partying.

The wiretaps were released at the conclusion of an investigation into entrepreneur Gianpaolo Tarantini, who is accused of paying women to sleep with Mr Berlusconi, 74, at his homes in 2008 and 2009. Mr Berlusconi is not under investigation, although the wiretaps throw doubt on his claims that he has never paid for sex.

"They are all well-provided for," Mr Berlusconi tells Mr Tarantini of the girls passing through his Rome residence in one of the thousands of recorded conversations released, which filled Italian newspapers yesterday.

In another conversation, a woman named Vanessa Di Meglio sends a text from Mr Berlusconi's residence to Mr Tarantini at 5.52am asking "Who pays? Do we ask him or you?"

Mr Tarantini's supply of women first made the headlines thanks to the revelations of prostitute Patrizia D'Addario, who claimed he had recruited her to have sex with Mr Berlusconi.

A second scandal has since erupted over Mr Berlusconi's subsequent parties at his villa near Milan, with the prime minister on trial accused of paying underage Moroccan dancer Karima El Mahroug for sex.

The newly published wiretaps give startling insight into Mr Berlusconi's sexual appetites. "Last night I had a queue outside the door of the bedroom... There were 11... I only did eight because I could not do it anymore," Mr Berlusconi told Mr Tarantini in 2009.

"Listen, all the beds are full here... this lot won't go home, even at gunpoint."

Mr Berlusconi, who boasted to one TV showgirl that he was only "prime minister in my spare time", told Mr Tarantini in September 2008 that he needed to reduce the flow of women since he had a "terrible week" ahead, seeing Pope Benedict, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former British prime minister Gordon Brown.

Mr Berlusconi has long insisted that his private parties were informal but elegant affairs, that extended only as far as joke-telling and songs, but is revealed as putting pressure on Mr Tarantini and his associates to conjure up beautiful female guests.

He is heard complaining he will need a caravan to pick up all the girls, while in another conversation Mr Tarantini says to a colleague: "Find a whore, please".

Mr Berlusconi also sought to impress his female guests by inviting senior managers from his cinema production company and from state TV network RAI.

"These are people who can get jobs for whoever they want," he told Mr Tarantini.

"The girls will get the idea that they are in front of men who can decide their destiny."

Mr Tarantini is also suspected of procuring women for other top officials.

In a letter published in the newspaper Il Foglio, Mr Berlusconi hit back at the latest wiretaps, claiming: "My private life is not a crime, my lifestyle may or may not please, it is personal, reserved and irreproachable."

Opposition leaders, meanwhile, demanded an inquiry into suggestions in the wiretaps that Mr Berlusconi used government aircraft to ferry prostitutes to his parties.

"Italy, with its grave problems cannot allow itself an executive which governs in its spare time. The time for words is over, Berlusconi must go to the Italian president and resign," said Davide Zoggia, an official for the opposition Democratic Party.

© Observer

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