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Berlusconi prostitution case extended

Dec. 13, 2012 at 11:21 AM

BARI, Italy, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- The investigation into former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's role in a prostitution case has been extended six months, prosecutors said Thursday.

Prosecutors said they need more time to gather and examine evidence in the so-called Tarantini case concerning payments Berlusconi allegedly made to Bari businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini in exchange for Tarantini offering false testimony in a prostitution case in which Berlusconi is a defendant, ANSA reported.

Prosecutors said Berlusconi asked former Avanti editor Valter Lavitola to pressure Tarantini into lying about a group of escorts he brought to Berlusconi's home from 2008 to 2009, when Berlusconi was prime minister.

Prosecutors charge Lavitola acted in Berlusconi's favor after Berlusconi paid him at least $654,000, ANSA said. Tarantini, his wife and two alleged collaborators later were accused by magistrates of trying to extort money from Berlusconi in exchange for their silence regarding the escorts.

Tarantini told magistrates in Bari Berlusconi didn't know the escorts were paid prostitutes, ANSA said. However, magistrates' evidence indicated Berlusconi knew he was having sex with prostitutes.

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