News Column

Journalist Linked to Berlusconi Sex Scandal Arrested In Italy

April 16, 2012

Italian police on Monday arrested at a Rome airport a journalist who last year fled to Latin America after he was implicated in a corruption and prostitution case involving former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Valter Lavitola was taken into custody shortly after arriving at Leonardo Da Vinci airport on a flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Ahead of his return to Italy, Lavitola said he had "had enough" and was willing to come home and face the charges brought against him.

Italian prosecutors in September issued an arrest warrant for Lavitola, accusing him of being the payment link between the then prime minister and two people - Bari business man Gianpaolo Tarantini and Tarantini's wife, Angela Devenuto.

At the time, Lavitola was abroad. In several interviews with Italian media, he denied any wrongdoing, but refused to return to Italy.

Tarantini and his wife were accused of blackmailing Berlusconi to the tune of more than a half million euros ($680,000) with information they had about reported sexual escapades, allegedly with prostitutes Tarantini had lined up for the premier.

Prosecutors subsequently dropped the blackmail charges against the couple and switched the focus of their investigation to whether Berlusconi had known all along that the women recruited by Tarantini were prostitutes, alleging that, through Lavitola, the then premier had offered cash and other incentives to the businessman to have him say Berlusconi didn't know the women were prostitutes.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH