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Berlusconi enjoys a parliamentary debate Mauro Scrobogna/AP/Press Association Images

Eight charged with procuring prostitutes for Berlusconi

The Italian leader’s lawyers have said alleged orgies at his home were “nothing but friendly gatherings”.

EIGHT PEOPLE ARE facing charges in Italy after allegedly supplying prostitutes for the use of embattled prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The suspects including German actress Sabina Began, also known as ‘the Queen Bee’, are accused of taking the girls to the leader’s homes for lavish parties, and exploiting prostitution. The charges relate to events in 2008 and 2009.

According to the BBC, Mr Berlusconi has denied through his lawyers that the parties were orgies. His legal representatives said in a statement: “They were nothing but friendly gatherings.”

Also charged is businessman Giampaolo Tarantini, who is already in custody over an alleged blackmail of Mr Berlusconi, in which he is accused of lying to investigators in return for money.

Prosecutors believe that at least 30 women were taken to the parties by Mr Tarantini, and a number of them slept with Mr Berlusconi, AFP reports.

According to the Guardian, papers submitted to the court also contain the allegation that well-known Italian actress Manuela Arcuri was offered the chance to present the country’s annual San Remo song contest if she bedded the 74-year-old prime minister. She told investigators that she refused.

Berlusconi has faced a number of calls to step down, including from one of his former ministers Rocco Buttiglione, who asked on radio: “Does he not realise that he is dramatically damaging Italy?”

Read more: Berlusconi: ‘Italy makes me feel like puking’>

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