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Italy's Berlusconi again denies having 'relations' with minors

By AFP

Silvio Berlusconi has again denied having had "relations" with under-age girls as his estranged wife charged in April, setting off a series of sex scandals for the Italian prime minister.

"I have never entertained relations with minors," Berlusconi said in an interview published Wednesday by the Italian celebrity weekly Chi, part of his family media group's stable of publications.

The flamboyant prime minister also insisted that the soirees he hosts at his lavish homes are elegant, serious affairs, rejecting accounts of frivolous gatherings dominated by showgirls.

Berlusconi, 72, described his parties as "nice dinners, absolutely beyond reproach from the standpoint of morals and elegance."

"I have never knowingly entertained frivolous people at my home," he said in an apparent reference to prostitute Patrizia D'Addario, who claims she was paid to sleep with the Italian leader.

"It is my grandchildren who control my free time," the self-made billionaire said in the interview at the sprawling Villa Certosa, his luxury home in Sardinia, adding that they considered him a "Superman grandfather."

The villa on the Costa Smeralda was the backdrop for a set of photos showing topless women cavorting poolside published by the Spanish daily El Pais.

"I intend to defend my private life against repeated violations by pseudo-reporters clearly contravening existing laws," Berlusconi told Chi, which illustrated the interview with photos of the media tycoon with his three children from his second marriage, to Veronica Lario.

Lario filed for divorce after allegations linking an aspiring model, Noemi Letizia, to the prime minister, who attended her 18th birthday party.

Berlusconi said his daughter Barbara, who voiced "astonishment" over her father's social life in an interview early this month, had been "manipulated" by his political adversaries.

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