May 31, 2009 / 4:18 PM / 9 years ago

Italy PM did not have sex with girl says ex-boyfriend

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi did not have sex with a teenage girl at the centre of a scandal that has wrecked the conservative leader’s marriage, the girl’s ex-boyfriend said. In a letter to Italy’s best-selling Corriere della Sera newspaper, Luigi Flaminio apologised for having talked publicly about Berlusconi’s relationship with aspiring model Noemi Letizia.

“I only told the truth,” Flaminio said in the handwritten letter printed by Corriere on Sunday.

“Now they are insinuating that he (Berlusconi) had sexual relations, something which I rule out a priori and is impossible knowing Noemi and her values.”

He said his earlier remarks to the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper had been used to attack the 72-year-old Berlusconi, whom he called “a man of the people.”

Berlusconi’s relationship with the young woman came to light when he was photographed at her 18th birthday party in Naples last month, prompting his wife to demand a divorce and raising an outcry from Italy’s opposition.

Berlusconi, still riding high in opinion polls and leading his party’s campaign for next week’s European elections, insisted he was a friend of Letizia’s family and denied any “steamy affair.”

However, La Repubblica quoted Flaminio as saying the prime minister had first telephoned Letizia after seeing her in a modelling catalogue and had hosted her at his villa in Sardinia when she was still a minor.

Letizia has repeatedly said she is a virgin.

Flaminio told La Repubblica that Berlusconi hosted Letizia and dozens of other young women at the villa during several days for a New Year’s Eve party. Flaminio said their relationship ended shortly after she returned.

Berlusconi on Saturday won a legal appeal to prevent publication of hundreds of photographs of visitors to the luxurious beach-side house taken without his permission by a photojournalist, including several snapped during the New Year’s Eve party. A prosecutor in Rome ordered the seizure of the images.

“We have really hit rock bottom with this intrusion of privacy,” Berlusconi told a news conference on Sunday. He said the photographs were “useless” and his Mondadori group’s publications had refused to pay even 10,000 euros ($14,000) for them.

The prime minister said his government would take steps in parliament to address such invasions of privacy and the use of phone tapping -- a common judicial and police technique.

Opposition parties, however, said they would table parliamentary questions of their own after the photographer told Italian media that he had taken images of Berlusconi’s guests arriving on military planes.

“This vice of using state aircraft to fly to football matches, Formula 1 races or parties at the seaside has got to stop because it is known as embezzlement,” said Antonio di Pietro, head of the opposition Italy of Values party, vowing to raise the subject urgently in parliament.

Reporting by Daniel Flynn; editing by Michael Roddy

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