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Berlusconi stops publication of photos

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L) whispers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint news conference with European leaders at the residence of Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem on January 18, 2009. As an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas comes into place, as the European leaders met in Egypt before heading to Jerusalem to shore up a durable agreement, allowing Gaza to begin the rebuilding process. (UPI Photo/Uriel Sinai/Pool)
Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (L) whispers to German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint news conference with European leaders at the residence of Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem on January 18, 2009. As an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Hamas comes into place, as the European leaders met in Egypt before heading to Jerusalem to shore up a durable agreement, allowing Gaza to begin the rebuilding process. (UPI Photo/Uriel Sinai/Pool) | License Photo

ROME, June 1 (UPI) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has blocked publication of potentially embarrassing photographs taken at his villa in Sardinia.

Among the hundreds of photos police seized are ones believed to feature former Czech Republic Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek in the nude, after Berlusconi, who is also a media tycoon, claimed the pictures constituted an invasion of privacy, The Times of London reported.

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Other photos reportedly are of bikini-clad and topless women, who may have been teenagers, although media accounts about their ages differ.

Prosecutors in Rome ordered the seizure of 200 to 300 images, taken by Sardinian photographer Antonello Zappadu outside Villa Certosa on the Costa Smeralda. Zappadu told local media outlets the photos were taken from 2007 to 2008, the British newspaper said.

Berlusconi's lawyers appealed to the courts to block the use or publication of the photographs after Zappadu allegedly offered them to newspapers for $2.1 million, the Times reported. The photographer surrendered a CD of the photographs to Cagliari police Saturday.

Berlusconi maintained the images were innocent.

His attorney, Niccolo Ghedini, said using a long lens for the photos constituted an invasion of privacy.

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