Italy scandal: Silvio Berlusconi in 'sex boast'

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gestures during a debate in the upper house of parliament in Rome Mr Berlusconi describes his parties as "friendly gatherings"

Italian newspapers have carried transcripts of phone calls in which PM Silvio Berlusconi allegedly boasts that 11 women were queuing up outside his room to have sex with him.

The intercepted conversation was with local businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini, who prosecutors allege was running a high-level prostitution ring.

Eight people are charged with supplying prostitutes for Mr Berlusconi.

He has not been charged and says he was unaware of their activities.

However, judges want to interview him as a witness over allegations that Mr Tarantini attempted to extort money from him in return for silence over the prostitution allegations.

The latest transcripts have prompted fresh criticism of Mr Berlusconi, who is under pressure for his handling of the Italian economy as the euro crisis has mounted.

'Spare time'

Prosecutors in the southern city of Bari say the eight people charged supplied the women in the hope of gaining jobs, contracts or favours.

They were charged on Thursday. Friday's newspapers carried photos of some of the women allegedly involved with the case.

And on Saturday thousands of pages of transcripts of intercepted phone calls were published.

In one call dated 1 January 2009, Mr Berlusconi allegedly tells Mr Tarantini that 11 women were waiting outside his door but he only "did" eight of them because "you can't do all".

In another, he describes himself as "prime minister in my spare time".

Meanwhile, opposition MPs have called for an inquiry into a suggestion in the intercepted calls that government aircraft were used to fly women to private parties held by Mr Berlusconi.

Mr Tarantini is already in custody in Naples in connection with the extortion case, where he is alleged to have sought payments totalling 800,000 euros (£700,000) from Mr Berlusconi in exchange for lying to the Bari investigators.

In this case, prosecutors say Mr Tarantini recruited prostitutes, starlets and other young women to attend parties at Mr Berlusconi's homes.

Along with Mr Tarantini, a German actress called Sabina Began - nicknamed "the Queen Bee" - is also facing charges.

The charges include exploiting prostitution, paying the girls for their services, and escorting them to Mr Berlusconi's residences in Sardinia and Rome for parties in 2008 and 2009.

Mr Berlusconi denies hosting orgies, and says the events were dinner parties.

"They were nothing but friendly gatherings," Mr Berlusconi's lawyers, Niccolo Ghedini and Piero Longo, said in a statement.

Using the services of a prostitute over the age of 18 is legal in Italy, but Mr Berlusconi is charged in yet another case being tried in Milan with having paid for sex with a then-17-year-old Moroccan nightclub dancer.

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