I'm no saint: Berlusconi breaks silence

Italian Prime Minister tries to laugh off sex-tape allegations

In his first comments since the escort tape scandal broke, the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi yesterday attempted to laugh off embarrassing revelations that have again put his sexual appetite at the centre of international debate. At the opening of a motorway construction site near the northern city of Brescia, he declared: "I am not a saint, you've all understood that – I hope the people at La Repubblica understand it too," referring to the left-leaning newspaper which has led the investigation into his dalliances with young starlets and showgirls.

On Tuesday, La Repubblica and its sister publication, the news weekly L'Espresso, published the latest conversations taped surreptitiously by Patrizia D'Addario which she claims prove that she and Mr Berlusconi had a sexual relationship. Ms D'Addario, a high-class escort, claims she and other women were paid to attend parties at Mr Berlusconi's residence in Rome.

Mr Berlusconi's lawyer, Nicolo Ghedini, denied the authenticity of the tapes, calling them "completely improbable and the fruit of invention".

In one recording, Giampaolo Tarantini, the Bari businessman who is said to have procured prostitutes for the parties, is heard telling Ms D'Addario about the 72-year-old Prime Minister's predilection for unprotected sex.

In another, Mr Berlusconi is purportedly heard telling Ms D'Addario that he is waiting for her on what he described enigmatically as "Putin's bed".

But yesterday Mr Berlusconi appeared determined to brazen the scandal out in his usual way. Noting that the new Brescia-Milan motorway was due to be opened in 2013, when his mandate ends, he quipped: "We will all still be around, because how could the Italians do without us?" Last night, the Industry Minister, Claudio Scajola, told reporters: "Even with this defamatory, awful, campaign that is damaging the image of our country, Silvio Berlusconi remains the leader with the broadest support in Europe."

In some quarters the alleged proof of Mr Berlusconi's "drill-like" sexual prowess contained in the tapes may actually have reinforced his support. But the tide of sleaze does seem to be taking its toll on his popularity.

An opinion poll published by La Repubblica on Tuesday showed his approval rating falling below 50 per cent for the first time since he won a landslide election victory last year. The Catholic vote is thought to be looking particularly precarious – one reason, perhaps, why he is said to be contemplating a pilgrimage to the shrine of Padre Pio in the far south.

Meanwhile, Emilio Marzano the chief prosecutor in the southern city of Bari, leading the investigation into the activities of Mr Tarantini – who is now suspected of supplying cocaine, as well as call girls – said he was in possession of another six tapes.

This raised the possibility that the tapes might also find their way into the hands of the press. Mr Marzano denied that any of the sex tapes had been leaked from his office.

Ms D'Addario says that she released the recordings because Mr Berlusconi had reneged on a promise to help her with a family building project. None of the tapes released so far bear out the claim that he made such a promise.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?