Showgirl minister accused of affair with rebel MP
Mara Carfagna: Stays loyal to Berlusconi
AN Italian showgirl-turned-cabinet minister has been accused of having an affair with a rebel MP.
Mara Carfagna, once voted the world's sexiest politician, allegedly had a relationship with Italo Bocchino, a former supporter of Silvio Berlusconi, but now a member of a group led by the prime minister's arch-rival Gianfranco Fini.
The claim that the 35-year-old former topless model had a relationship with Mr Bocchino came from his wife, Gabriella Buontempo, who disclosed this week that she had known about it for two-and-a-half years.
In an interview with the Italian edition of 'Vanity Fair', she was asked about the rumoured existence of compromising photos of her husband and Miss Carfagna.
Commenting on standards of conduct in Italian politics and the prostitution scandal engulfing Mr Berlusconi, Ms Buontempo (44) said: "In America, politicians have to resign for much less. But this is Italy. And in this country, if you don't have at least one lover, you're a loser."
Rumours of the relationship first surfaced when Alessandra Mussolini, a right-wing MP and granddaughter of the fascist dictator, released photographs she had taken of Miss Carfagna talking intently to Mr Bocchino in parliament.
Miss Carfagna is Italy's equal opportunities minister. Mr Berlusconi first spotted her on a television programme in 2007, and a year later he made her a minister in his government, having been elected prime minister for the third time.
Mr Berlusconi himself was jeered and booed during Italy's 150th unification anniversary celebrations yesterday, as further details emerged of his so-called "bunga bunga" sex parties. Protesters called for his resignation when he attended ceremonies in Rome.
The prime minister is due to face trial on April 6 on charges of abuse of office and paying for sex with an under-age prostitute. He denies all the allegations.
His lawyers said that they would seek to have the start of the trial delayed because they needed more time to study the latest dossier of evidence, which runs to more than 20,000 pages. (© Daily Telegraph, London)