'Sultan' Berlusconi often had orgies, Italian daily alleges


IF ITALIAN prime minister Silvio Berlusconi thought the widely acknowledged success (at least from an organisational and mass-media viewpoint) of last week’s G8 summit in the earthquake-devastated town of L’Aquila was about to earn him a sustained respite from his domestic critics, he might have to think again.

In the run-up to the summit, Mr Berlusconi’s involvement in the “Barigate” sex scandal prompted criticism not just from opposition figures and (some) Italian newspapers, but also from foreign dailies such as the Financial Times, New York Times and El País.

But in the wake of the G8 summit, Mr Berlusconi’s critics were forced to concede that things had, by and large, gone well in L’Aquila and that the prime minister had, in the words of the Financial Times, trod “the path from playboy to statesman”.

A large part of the “success” of L’Aquila was not so much what happened as what did not happen. There were no further earthquakes, of either the literal, earth-shaking sort or the metaphorical kind, prompted by new revelations linked to “Barigate”.

In the end, too, such was the “tone” established by the prime minister in his news conferences that he avoided having to face awkward questions about his much-discussed private life.

With the L’Aquila G8 now history, however, one of Mr Berlusconi’s most persistent critics, La Repubblica newspaper, returned to “Barigate” yesterday, so-called because the investigation is based in Bari. Reporting that investigators have questioned 19 women who, for a fee, attended parties at the prime minister’s private residences, the Rome-based daily accused Mr Berlusconi of being a “sultan” for whom orgies were systematically organised.

“In the summer of 2008, Berlusconi’s sexual addiction became compulsive. He would phone Tarantini [the health contractor at the centre of the Bari investigation] 10 times in the same day asking him to organise the ‘girls’ for that evening, with only a few hours’ warning,” La Repubblicareports.

The newspaper goes on to suggest that the parties in Mr Berlusconi’s residences often ended in sessions of group sex.

Patrizia D’Addario, the Bari-based call girl who claims she slept with Mr Berlusconi on the night of the US presidential election count last November, is reported as having refused to spend the night in his Rome residence on an earlier occasion because she believed the evening was destined to end in a group sex session.

La Repubblicacontinues: “What emerges from the Bari investigation is a clearly defined picture, namely that, around the prime minister, there is a very discreet yet at the same time reckless organisation which supplies the ‘Sultan’ with prostitutes for his evenings of orgies.

“The behaviour of the head of government is in total contradiction with those values [God and family] which he proclaims in public and with those laws which he wants to promote in parliament [severe punishments for those who organise prostitution and for those who have sex with prostitutes].”

Opposition figure Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the Italy of Values party, said yesterday: “We find nothing civil, correct or constructive in the behaviour of this government and . . . will continue to oppose it.”