Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is under investigation in a prostitution case involving a then-17-year-old Moroccan girl, the country's leading newspaper has reported.
Corriere della Sera said in its online edition that the 74-year-old premier is suspected of abusing his power in trying to cover up his alleged encounters with the girl, nicknamed Ruby.
The case became public months ago when it emerged that Mr Berlusconi had intervened to secure the release from police custody of the girl, who had previously been at his villa.
Mr Berlusconi said at the time that he had done nothing wrong and that he had only intervened to help someone in need. The girl denied having sex with the premier.
Mr Berlusconi's lawyers confirmed he was under investigation and called the case "absurd and groundless".
Nicolo Ghedini and Piero Longo said the probe represented a "very serious interference in the prime minister's private life".
They said the allegations "have already been refuted by all witnesses and people directly involved".
Mr Berlusconi's office said it had no immediate comment.