Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is fighting back in a scandal feeding on his reported fondness for young women, with his lawyer acknowledging Saturday that the media mogul has moved to block publication of hundreds of photos taken of guests at his sumptuous Sardinian villa.
The wife of the 72-year-old Berlusconi, Veronica Lario, 52, announced a few weeks ago that she was seeking a divorce, in part because of what she lamented was her husband’s infatuation with young women.
Berlusconi, speaking by telephone to an election rally Saturday in northern Italy, described himself as the victim of a campaign of “insults” that he alleged was run by the center-left opposition to discredit him before European Parliament elections next weekend.
The Corriere della Sera and La Stampa daily newspapers ran a photograph of what they said was a letter sent by the prime minister to Italy’s watchdog on privacy, asking that the authorities do what is necessary to block “use or publication” of the photos.
Corriere della Sera, without attribution, said that among the photos were some that showed young women topless or in bikinis in the gardens of the villa.
Berlusconi’s lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, in a statement Saturday evening, insisted that there was nothing racy in the photos, contending that the images show people in “situations that are absolutely normal.”
Also, Berlusconi has denied anything “spicy” in his relationship with 18-year-old Noemi Letizia.
He has said he went to Letizia’s 18th birthday party because he happened to be in Naples that night and because he knew her father years ago from political circles.
Berlusconi’s wife cited the birthday party in announcing that she was splitting from him, complaining that he never attended any of their three children’s 18th birthday bashes.