Berlusconi accused of paying dancer
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been allegedly accused of paying $9,350 to a night club dancer amid speculations that she had an affair with the embattled leader.
Moroccan dancer Karima El Mahrough said in an interview with Sky TG24 TV on Saturday that the 74-year-old premier gave her the money when she went to a Valentine's Day soiree at his villa near Milan last year.
Meanwhile, Berlusconi's lawyer Niccolo Ghedini dismissed the claims as "absurd and groundless."
The lawyer said the allegations had already been refuted by all witnesses and people directly involved.
The Moroccan dancer, however, insisted that Berlusconi did not have sexual contact with her.
She also said that the Italian premier did not know that she was 17 at that time, "because I told everyone I was 24."
Asked about why Berlusconi gave her the money, she explained, "Because I had just arrived in Milan and he knew of my difficult family situation."
Prosecutors are trying to find whether the Italian premier paid the money and engaged in sexual activity with the teenage girl.
The probe also covers claims that Berlusconi abused his power to secure the girl's release, when she was being questioned over theft allegations.
Police have also raided the home of a member of Berlusconi's party and a Lombardy regional council member, who is under investigation for allegedly aiding and abetting juvenile prostitution.
A string of sex and corruption scandals have hit Berlusconi since he regained power in 2008, PressTV reported.