Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is under growing pressure to resign over allegations he paid for sex with young women, including a 17-year old dancer, at parties in his homes.
ROME, ITALY (JANUARY 18, 2011) REUTERS -Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was under growing pressure to resign on Tuesday (January 18) as further details come to light relating to investigations he paid for sex with young women.
Berlusconi says the allegations are absurd. He has said he never paid for sex and has been in a stable relationship since separating from his second wife, who left him in a blaze of publicity in 2009, accusing him of "frequenting minors".
He and his allies have branded the probe a plot by biased magistrates bent on destroying his career, accusing prosecutors of prying into his private life and spying on his guests.
Prosecutors have summoned Berlusconi, who already faces trials on corruption and tax fraud charges, for questioning this weekend on the latest scandal but it is unclear if he will go.
Italian media had a field day reporting leaked transcripts of phone conversations between some of the women who attended parties at Berlusconi's villa near Milan, described as "bunga bunga" parties in reference to lewd activity.
The transcripts are part of a 385-page dossier detailing the investigation of the 74-year old billionaire on suspicion of abuse of office and having sex with an underage prostitute.
"He will never go to court, Berlusconi is so sneaky, he will never, ever go," said pensioner Francesco Mariotti who appeared unsurprised by all the revelations in the newspapers.
All Tuesday's newspapers led with the story, with one front page showing a line of crossed women's legs with the headline: 'The assembly line.' One newspaper carried a cartoon showing Berlusconi on the street asking a prostitute how much she wanted to pay him.
"What he should do? Well he should have resigned before, if he had any good taste he would have resigned," said Rome resident Vittoria Pugliese.
"Berlusconi needs to resign, the magistrates need to do their work because he (Berlusconi) is ruining Italy and its reputation in the eyes of the world, I just can't stand it anymore," said Giuseppina Forli.
The probe focuses on Karima El Mahroug, a 18-year old Moroccan who attended Berlusconi's parties when she was 17 and, according to prosecutors, was paid to have sex with him.
Magistrates also suspect Berlusconi pressured police to release El Mahroug, who goes by the stage name "Ruby the Heartrobber," last May when she was detained for theft.
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