Berlusconi's wife lashes out
Rome - The estranged wife of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi lashed out on Saturday at what she called excessive attention and unwanted advice in the media following her decision to divorce the conservative leader.
In a letter published on the front page of Corriere della Sera, Italy's top daily, Veronica Lario asked that she and her children be left in peace.
"The decision by myself and my lawyer to handle the separation with grace is bothering, for reasons I don't understand, people who should have no interest in the issue, and who certainly have no right to publicly pass judgment on the subject," Lario wrote in the letter.
She asked that her son and two daughters, as well as her friends, "be left in peace" by the prying media.
Two months ago the former actress set off a political storm for Berlusconi when she announced her intention to divorce him, citing his selection of showgirls for European Parliament candidates and his attendance at the birthday party of an 18-year-old model in Naples.
Allegations of prostitutes
The premier insisted there was nothing scandalous in his relationship with Noemi Letizia, whom he has said was the daughter of an old friend from political circles. He said he went to the party because he happened to be in Naples that day.
But since then a string of allegations has emerged over his purported fondness for young women, with the media competing over every tawdry detail. Berlusconi has dismissed all the allegations as lies fabricated by the opposition and left-leaning media.
In the latest case, a high-end prostitute claimed that she and at least one other woman were recruited and paid by a Berlusconi acquaintance to attend parties at his residence and that she spent a night with the premier.
Berlusconi has said he has never paid a woman for sex, suggesting instead the escort may have received money to create a scandal.
Giampaolo Tarantini, a local businessman who is under investigation in the southern city of Bari for allegedly recruiting and paying the women, defended himself in an interview published Saturday by Il Giornale, the Berlusconi family newspaper.
Tarantini reiterated previous statements that he only reimbursed the women for their travel expenses. He maintained he had brought them to meet Berlusconi only to show off, adding that the premier didn't know the expenses were paid.
Tarantini apologised to Berlusconi for having contributed to a new scandal.
The back-to-back scandals may have tarnished Berlusconi's image at home and abroad, but his conservative forces still emerged with solid victories from EU elections and administrative balloting this month.