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Berlusconi may be called to testify in prostitution case

26 women, including an actress and showgirl, could follow

06 February, 15:54
Berlusconi may be called to testify in prostitution case (ANSA) - Bari, February 6 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi may be called to testify in a case against seven defendants who allegedly supplied him with dozens of women for sex parties in exchange for public contracts.

Berlusconi, who is not being tried in this case, was requested at the start of proceedings Thursday to take the witness stand by the defendants, who include Bari businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini and German actress Sabina Began, known by the nickname 'Queen Bee'.

Charges against them include the aiding and exploitation of prostitution of 26 women, many of them escorts, who between 2008 and 2009 were brought to the residences of then premier Berlusconi.

Italian actress Manuela Arcuri and showgirl Sara Tommasi are among 26 injured parties in the case, and they may all be called to testify, court filings showed Thursday. In October prosecutors dropped an investigation into Tarantini over suspicions he attempted to extort money from Berlusconi, at the time still Italy's premier, in exchange for telling prosecutors that Berlusconi had no idea the girls at parties held in his Rome residence in 2008 and 2009 were paid escorts.

Prosecutors determined a 500-million-euro payment was a gift after Berlusconi heard Tarantini was in financial trouble.

Many of the other injured parties are professional escorts.

The judge has called the women victims whose "freedom and human dignity" had been harmed. One of them, Patrizia D'Addario, told the court through tears Thursday that the experience ruined the past five years of her life. "I had everything, but today I find myself with nothing.

Whatever damages the judge chooses to award will never be enough for what I've gone through and continue to go through," she said. A high-profile escort, D'Addario participated in a few of the "bunga bunga" parties at Berlusconi's villas and made national headlines when she went public with her story.

The hearing was adjourned Thursday due to technical errors until March 27, when judges will determine if Berlusconi should take the witness stand. The three-time premier, who is appealing a six-year conviction for paying for sex with an underage prostitute in a separate case, says he never paid anyone for sex.