Lawyers for Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi moved to pre-empt the possible publication of photos allegedly depicting the 74-year-old premier nude with young women.
The existence of the photos was reported today by Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper, which cited a bidding war among “several weeklies and specialized agencies” for the rights to publish “a scoop that may change the country’s political history.”
Berlusconi’s lawyers, Niccolo Ghedini and Piero Longo, said that while any such images are “false,” they filed complaints with judicial authorities and Italy’s privacy watchdog as a “precaution,” Ansa newswire said. Another attorney for Berlusconi, Piersilvio Cipolotti, confirmed the complaints were filed in a telephone interview today.
Berlusconi, a media tycoon, currently faces possible criminal charges of engaging in prostitution with a minor and abuse of office. Milan prosecutors are pressing forward with an investigation into allegations Berlusconi paid for sexual relations with a 17-year-old and then helped secure her release from police custody on an unrelated charge.
Berlusconi has denied any wrongdoing in the case and said he never paid for sex. He frequently accuses the prosecutors of seeking to destroy him politically.
The Milan prosecutors say that Berlusconi regularly had parties at his mansion near the city with young women. Some of the alleged photos were taken by guests on their mobile phones, Il Fatto Quotidiano said.
Friends of the premier who are also targeted in the probe “identified, selected and accompanied a relevant number of young women, who prostituted themselves with Silvio Berlusconi in his residence and were paid money,” Milan prosecutor Edmondo Bruti Liberti, who is leading the investigation, wrote in a document posted on parliament’s website on Jan. 17.