Italian MPs block search request in Berlusconi sex case

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Image copyright AFP
Image caption Mr Berlusconi has said he will not resign over the allegations

Italy's parliament has rejected a search request by prosecutors looking into allegations that Silvio Berlusconi had sex with an under-age prostitute.

The vote in the lower house followed the request by Milan magistrates to search the offices of the prime minister's accountant.

But the lawmakers sent the case back to the prosecutors, challenging their jurisdiction.

Mr Berlusconi, aged 74, insists the allegations are politically motivated.

He said last month that he had no intention of resigning over the claims.

'Political vendetta'

The prosecutors had sought to search the officers of Mr Berlusconi's accountant - Giuseppe Spinelli.

Mr Spinelli is suspected of handling payments on behalf of the prime minister to the minor as well as to scores of young women attending parties at his villas.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Karima El Mahroug now says she plans to marry, reports say

Mr Berlusconi has refused to appear before the prosecutors who want to question him over his alleged relations with prostitutes, including an 18-year-old Moroccan belly-dancer who attended Mr Berlusconi's parties when she was 17 and, prosecutors say, was paid to have sex with him.

Frequenting prostitutes is not a crime in Italy but having sex with one under the age of 18 is an imprisonable offence.

Both Mr Berlusconi and Karima El Mahroug, also called Ruby, have denied having sexual relations, and she has described a sum of 7,000 euros (£5,900) that he gave her as a gift.

Italian newspapers have been running transcripts of telephone calls by more than 20 women who are alleged to have attended sex parties at Mr Berlusconi's residences.

Mr Berlusconi insists the magistrates are pursuing a political vendetta against him.

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