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Italian prime minister faces new sex scandal

A close friend of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday that a Moroccan teenage girl at the centre of a new sex scandal threatening the premier may have attended a party hosted by Berlusconi.

world Updated: Oct 29, 2010 08:04 IST

A close friend of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday that a Moroccan teenage girl at the centre of a new sex scandal threatening the premier may have attended a party hosted by Berlusconi.

Emilio Fede, who anchors a news programme on a television channel owned by Berlusconi's Mediaset network, is being investigated on charges of procuring prostitutes, news reports said.

The probe, reportedly conducted by magistrates in Milan, is linked to allegations made by the 17-year-old Moroccan that she, together with dozens of young women, attended parties at Berlusconi's villa in the northern town of Arcore.

The girl, whom news reports have only identified as "Ruby R", was questioned in May by investigators in Milan in connection with the theft of cash from a friend's apartment, the leftist newspaper La Repubblica reported.

During her interrogation, she reportedly made allegations that she had visited the conservative premier's Villa San Martino on three occasions after being contacted by Fede.

Ruby R told investigators that Fede first accompanied her to Berlusconi's villa for a Feb 14 Valentine's Day party.

The girl also claimed that the party was attended by about 20 young women and only two men -- Fede and Berlusconi.

"I think I met that girl at some dinner at Berlusconi's house," Fede was quoted as saying Thursday by the ANSA news agency.

The 79-year-old Fede, however, denied reports in which the girl alleged he had introduced her to the 74-year-old premier.

Fede also denied he is under investigation.

Berlusconi minimised the significance of the reports.

"See what a fuss they have kicked up? Over nothing," he joked with TV cameramen on the margins of an EU summit in Brussels.

At a news conference in Naples earlier Thursday, he refused to answer questions related to the case.

On Wednesday, the premier's lawyers described as "totally unfounded" a report by another leftist newspaper, Il Fatto Quotidiano, alleging that Ruby had sex with him.

The media-magnate-turned-politician has been embroiled in a series of sex scandals -- including one in May 2009 when his wife, Veronica Lario, announced her intention to divorce after reports that Berlusconi had attended the birthday party of an 18-year-old lingerie model.

Lario also accused her husband of "frequenting" underage women, a charge the premier denied.

In June 2009, a self-described escort, Patrizia D'Addario, alleged she spent the night with Berlusconi at his residence in Rome.

Berlusconi has said he is "no saint", but denied ever paying for sex.