There is more trouble for Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, already embroiled in prostitution scandal, with new allegations emerging that he may have paid young women in his inner circle to undergo cosmetic surgery.
Italian prosecutors have now started an investigation to determine whether Berlusconi paid money to seven women for operations to enlarge their breasts, shape their buttocks and plump up their lips with collagen implants, British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported.
The investigators believe the operations were carried out by Giacomo Urtis, a cosmetic surgeon based in Sardinia.
Venezuelan born Dr Urtis, 34, has been questioned by Ilda Boccassini, one of the Italian magistrates pursuing the case against the PM, but is not accused of any wrongdoing.
And, in the course of their investigation prosecutors recorded hundreds of telephone conversations, in which some of the women caught up in the scandal discussed having work done to their breasts and bottoms, the British newspaper said.Dr Urtis told Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper that the prosecutors were particularly interested in whether he had performed work on Karima El Mahroug, the teenage belly dancer who Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex when she was 17. The surgeon insisted that he had never met her.
The prosecutors, who accuse the PM of abuse of office and sleeping with an underage prostitute, have already amassed evidence suggesting he gave jewellery, cars, and cash to many showgirls and aspiring actresses who "prostituted themselves" at his "bunga bunga" parties at his mansion near Milan.
Berlusconi, Italy's third richest man, said he was not worried about the prostitution trial, due to start on April 6, claiming he had been unfairly persecuted for years by the judiciary.
"I'm the person who's been subjected to the most trials in Italy, I've had to face 2,952 hearings. If I tell you how much I've spent in consultants and lawyers I think you'll faint: more than 600 billion lire (2.5 million pounds).
"When people say that I should let myself be put on trial, I think 'forgive them, for they know not what they do'," Berlusconi said at a conference in Milan.