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Berlusconi's new 'sex party' claims

Prosecutors claim an Italian businessman recruited about 30 girls to attend parties at Premier Silvio Berlusconi's homes, selecting them for their looks and age and paying some of them to have sex with the Italian leader.

They allege that between September 2008 and May 2009, Gianpaolo Tarantini recruited women of "young age, slender frame," and told them what to wear and how to behave at the parties, according to a newly-filed court document.

The prosecutors have now wrapped up their investigation into Mr Tarantini's activities.

In the document summing up their conclusions, prosecutors charge that Mr Tarantini was paying the women so he could win favour with Mr Berlusconi and, through him, obtain jobs with state-run companies and state agencies.

Mr Berlusconi is not under investigation in the case. But the revelations are proving a further embarrassment for the scandal-plagued leader.

"Italy deserves better," La Stampa newspaper said in an editorial. "To have a premier who must spend hours with his lawyers to map out strategies to defend himself undoubtedly damages the nation, as that time is taken away from institutional activities such as foreign affairs or public finances," it said.

Mr Berlusconi is already on trial in four separate cases in Milan on charges of corruption, tax fraud and paying for sex with a minor.

He might face another one after a judge said on Thursday he should be indicted for his role in the publication about five years ago, in a family-owned newspaper, of wiretaps that damaged a political rival and were covered by the secrecy of an ongoing probe. No decision on a possible indictment has been made.

The premier has always denied wrongdoing, saying he is the victim of politically driven magistrates intent on ousting him from power.

He has maintained that the parties at his villas - now known as "bunga bunga" and described as sex-filled bacchanalia - were decent and elegant soirees where nothing tawdry was going on. The premier has also denied ever paying for sex.

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