Italian PM denies ever being a hobbyist
Berlusconi: 'I've never paid a woman'
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has refuted allegations that he paid prostitutes to attend parties he hosted at his various homes.
Last month it was announced Silvio Berlusconi and his wife Veronica Lario are to divorce.
In an interview with Italian magazine "Chi," the 72-year old denied he had ever paid for sex.
''I've never paid a woman. I never understood where the satisfaction is when you're missing the pleasure of conquest,'' Berlusconi told Chi.
According to Italian press agency ANSA, Berlusconi accused Patrizia D'Addario -- the woman who alleges she was paid to spend the night with the premier in November -- of being involved in a plan to make up false accusations against him.
D'Addario last week told an Italian newspaper that a local businessman now being probed by magistrates paid her €1,000 ($1,408) to attend a dinner at Berlusconi's Rome residence along with other young women -- what she described as a "harem" -- and she was back a few weeks later to spend the night with the premier, Reuters.com reported.
But Berlusconi told Chi: ''Behind the (investigators') probe in (the southern city of) Bari there's someone who gave Ms D'Addario very detailed and very well paid orders.'" Do you think the allegations against Berlusconi affect his ability to govern?
When asked if he suspected D'Addario was "setting a trap" for him, he replied: 'If I did I'd leap a thousand miles away.''
Berlusconi's private life has been in the spotlight since his wife, filed for divorce in May following reports that her husband went to the birthday party in Naples of an 18-year-old girl. The prime minister denied having an inappropriate relationship with the girl.
Berlusconi and Veronica Lario have been married for 19 years.
Earlier this month, Spanish newspaper El Pais published what it said were five exclusive photographs of racy parties at Berlusconi's villa on the island of Sardinia. The photos, including one which showed scantily clad women, were blocked from use in Italy by a judicial order after Berlusconi complained of an invasion of privacy.
The three-time prime minister's public life has been no less controversial. While campaigning for local elections in Sardinia in January, Berlusconi was asked by reporters to comment about an interior ministry proposal to deploy troops on city streets after a series of sexual assaults on women.
"We can't think of deploying a large force," Berlusconi said. "We would have to send as many soldiers as there are beautiful girls. And I don't think we would manage."
After being accused of ignoring the seriousness of sexual violence, he said he meant his remarks as a "compliment" and noted that "women have to be defended."
In another controversial comment, during the run-up to the 2008 Italian general election, Berlusconi claimed right-wing female politicians were better looking than their left-wing counterparts.
In an interview with CNN recently, the former media tycoon said he now felt his job was a burden.
"I'm still doing everything that I'm doing with a great sense of sacrifice. I have to tell you I don't like it. Absolutely. I would rather be doing what I was doing before or doing something else now," he said.
"I'm here because unfortunately right now Berlusconi is considered the only leader capable of holding the center-right together.
Despite the swirl of scandal Berlusconi remains popular, consistency scoring approval ratings of more than 60 percent.
Escort confirms spending the night with Berlusconi
Prostitute alleges party with Berlusconi
ROME - The high-end prostitute at the centre of Premier Silvio Berlusconi's starlet scandal has dismissed the premier's claims that he doesn't know her, saying they spent the night together and shared an "intimate" breakfast the next morning.
Patrizia D'Addario told the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper that the only way the premier could be confused about her identity was because "there were so many other young women who looked just like me" at the parties he threw at his residence.
Prosecutors in the southern city of Bari have questioned D'Addario and other starlets as part of a probe into a local businessman accused of recruiting and paying women to attend parties at the premier's homes.
The businessman, Giampaolo Tarantini, has said the women were only reimbursed for their travel expenses and has apologized to Berlusconi for causing scandal.
Berlusconi has said he has never paid for sex, and in an interview with gossip magazine Chi, which he owns, said he didn't remember D'Addario's name or what she looked like.
He granted the interview as he battled a mounting scandal that began when his wife, Veronica Lario - a former actress who met Berlusconi while starring topless in the play "The Magnificent Cuckold" - cited his selection of showgirls for European Parliament candidates and his attendance at the birthday party of an 18-year-old model in announcing she was divorcing him.
D'Addario was quoted as saying by Repubblica that she attended two parties at Berlusconi's Roman residence, including one at which she said there were some 20 young women, including two known lesbian prostitutes, who flocked around the premier as if they were at a "harem."
"Actually, harems are serious things that I know well because I've been to Dubai three times," said D'Addario.
She said she danced with the premier to Frank Sinatra's "My Way" during the party, and that the women dined on smoked beef, pasta with mushrooms, cutlets with potatoes and a yoghurt torte that was "soft, like grandma's."
She said she spent that night, Nov. 4, with Berlusconi, when the premier reportedly skipped an appearance at a U.S.-Italy event marking the election of President Barack Obama.
The next morning she said Berlusconi invited her to stay for breakfast. Asked if it took place in the same dining room as the party the night before, D'Addario responded: "No, not in the dining room. It was something more intimate."
D'Addario has said she recorded her encounter with the premier and has turned the tapes over to Bari prosecutors. Prosecutors have not commented on the claim.
D'Addario denied Berlusconi's claims she was paid to expose him, saying she came forward on her own only because he had reneged on a promise to help her out with a real estate problem she was having.
She says she received C1,000 ($1,400) from Tarantini for her attendance at an Oct. 15 party, but wasn't paid for the Nov. 4 encounter and instead received the promise Berlusconi would intervene in the land dispute.
D'Addario says after she confided in an acquaintance that she had recorded proof of her encounter with the premier, her house was robbed and Berlusconi snubbed her at a Bari campaign appearance, even though she was a candidate with a local party affiliated with his Freedom People's party.
She said thieves made off with her computer, music CDs, lingerie and designer clothes - including the Versace dress she wore the night of Nov. 4.
Despite the back-to-back scandals, Berlusconi's conservative forces have emerged victorious from this month's European and administrative elections. But the allegations have tarnished his image abroad and sparked protests at home.
Thousands of women's rights activists and intellectuals have signed an online petition calling on first ladies not to attend the Group of Eight summit in July in the town of L'Aquila to denounce what they say is Berlusconi's sexist behaviour in public and private.
The premier "likes to have many young ladies around him, and he also proposes them for politics, so he shows very little respect not only for them but also for the electors," Margherita Hack, a leading Italian astrophysicist and one of the signatories, told AP Television News.