I invited escort girls to parties for morale boost, says Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi has said he invited escort girls to his parties "to boost his morale".
In a candid exchange with magistrate Pasquale Drago in May, details of which were reported by Italy's newspapers, Mr Berlusconi (pictured) said he had asked his butler to place the women that businessman Giampaolo Tarantini brought to his dinners across the table from him, "to lift up my morale".
He said that if he had genuinely wanted to invite prostitutes, there were plenty in Rome already.
He strongly denied knowing that women brought to his house in Rome in 2009 by Mr Tarantini were prostitutes, saying he believed they were Mr Tarantini's friends.
Mr Berlusconi is being investigated on suspicion of paying Mr Tarantini €500,000 to tell investigators that the Italian former prime minister had no idea the women he met were paid escorts.
One of the women, Patrizia D'Addario, has claimed she had sex with Mr Berlusconi and that he knew she was a prostitute.
Mr Berlusconi has denied ever paying for sex. In 2009 his lawyer claimed that Mr Berlusconi was at most the "end user" of the women.
"For a laugh one day my assistant showed me how many escorts there are in Rome," 'La Repubblica' reported him saying yesterday. "In 20 minutes, you can invite 50 to your home; therefore, I had no need for Tarantini to bring them to dinner every now and then, since one could look at photos and choose."
Mr Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years in jail in June for paying an underage prostitute, Karima El Mahroug, who attended his parties in Milan. He is appealing the charges, which he denies.
In his meeting with the magistrate, Mr Berlusconi also denied accusations that he had sought to arrange business meetings between Mr Tarantini and the head of Italian company Finmeccanica. But Mr Berlusconi was then referred to wiretapped conversations in which he appears to suggest to Mr Tarantini that he had talked to the CEO of Finmeccanica about him.
"If I did, it was to show him that I was more interested than I really was," replied Mr Berlusconi.
The magistrate then suggests Mr Berlusconi had lied to a voter.
"I admit it, I admit it," replied Mr Berlusconi. "Even if (I would lie) to voters a bit less. These are lies I would call 'the lies of life', which are, however, innocuous."
Mr Berlusconi sought to amuse Mr Drago, the magistrate, by discussing the TV showgirls who attended his parties, joking that of 100 showgirls who were asked: "Would you happily go to dinner with President Berlusconi?" 76 said yes immediately, while the other 24 had already been his guest. (© Daily Telegraph, London)