Berlusconi Calls Probe Unfounded, Notes Relationship

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said allegations that he paid for sex with an underage woman are “unfounded” and that he is in a “stable relationship” with a woman who wouldn’t allow such a thing.

In a video posted on his party’s website, Berlusconi said he has “never paid” for sex and that criminal allegations partly based on wiretapping his friends’ phones convinced him to move ahead with an overhaul of Italy’s justice system.

“We can’t go on like this,” he said in the video posted yesterday. “It’s not a free country when you pick up the phone and you aren’t sure about the inviolability of your own conversations. It’s not a free country when some judges carry out political battles and use their power illegitimately to work against people who were democratically elected.”

Prosecutors in Milan said last week that Berlusconi, 74, is an official suspect in a probe into whether he paid for sex with a minor who attended parties at his Milan mansion and then abused his powers by helping get her freed from police custody on an unrelated charge. Berlusconi dismissed the allegations against him.

Italian newspapers today were filled with speculation about with whom Berlusconi’s “stable relationship” could be. He separated from Veronica Lario, his wife of 19 years, in May 2009 when she publicly accused him of “cavorting” with minors after he attended the 18th birthday party of a woman from Naples.

Immunity Ruling

Berlusconi said the timing of the investigation shows the judges are politically motivated. He was officially made a suspect of the probe on Dec. 21, a week after he survived a no- confidence poll in parliament by a three-vote margin. The court made the probe public on Jan. 14, the day after the country’s Constitutional Court overruled parts of a law granting Berlusconi virtual immunity from prosecution.

The judges in the Milan case have requested that the premier testify as soon as this week. Berlusconi won’t agree to attend the hearing, setting up a legal confrontation with the court, Corriere della Sera reported today, without saying where it got the information.