Silvio Berlusconi in prostitution probe
TV showgirl and would-be Euro MP claims to have been offered €2,000 to attend a party at the PM's residence
The Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi returned from his trip to Washington this week to find himself knee-deep in more girl trouble. Prosecutors in Bari in southern Italy are reported to be investigating claims that showgirls were paid by businessmen seeking favours from the prime minister to attend parties at his villa in Sardinia and at the Palazzo Grazioli, his residence in Rome. They want to know whether the payments constitute an 'induction into prostitution'.
The respected Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has reported that Patrizia D'Addario (inset), one of the TV showgirls invited to stand for Berlusconi's party as a candidate in the recent European elections, was offered money to attend a party last October at the Palazzo Grazioli. The offer was not made by the prime minister himself, but by a businessman seeking hospital supply contracts in the south. "I said they would have to pay me," D'Addario told the paper, "and we agreed on €2,000."
D'Addario said she and about 20 other women were treated to pizza and champagne while Berlusconi sung songs and told jokes. "I knew he was struck by me because he asked what work I did, and I told him about a residential hotel I hoped to build," she said. Afterwards, she returned to her hotel and received only €1,000 - half the agreed sum - "because I did not stay".
She was invited back a few weeks later for a US presidential election party on the night of November 4. On this occasion she and two other women were the only guests. Berlusconi "immediately remembered my building project. Then he asked me to stay."
Following this visit, D'Addario was invited to stand as a candidate in the European elections. The idea had to be dropped when Berlusconi's plan to field a raft of models and showgirls was met with public ridicule, led by his own wife, Veronica Lario.
D'Addario also told the Corriere della Sera that she was experiencing planning difficulties in Bari with her hotel project and Berlusconi promised to send "two of his trusted people" to help deal with obstacles. "But he did not keep to his agreements, and from that moment I had no wish to go back, despite repeated invitations".
Berlusconi, who had hoped his trip to see President Barack Obama at the White House would divert attention from the continued speculation over his relationship with 18-year-old Noemi Letizia, and the publication in Madrid of photographs of girls partying at his Sardinian villa, said of the Corriere della Sera story: "Once again they fill the newspapers with rubbish and falsehoods. I will certainly not allow this aggression to affect me, and I will continue to work as ever for the good of this country."
But D'Addario claims she has tape recordings of both encounters at the Palazzo Grazioli. "You can hear his [Berlusconi's] voice on them, and there are many witnesses," she said. ·