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Recent Italian Scandals for Dummies

by de Gondi Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 02:44:39 AM EST

From today's Salon:

   Prosecutors say an Italian businessman recruited about 30 girls to attend parties at Premier Silvio Berlusconi's homes, selecting them for their looks and age and paying some of them to have sex with the Italian leader.

    They allege that between September 2008 and May 2009 Gianpaolo Tarantini recruited women of "young age, slender frame," and told them what to wear and how to behave at the parties, according to a newly filed court document.

Preferably not tall, no high heels.

Actually, this AP blurb hardly reveals the enormity of the case. It will frontpage throughout the world once it gets rolling. Nor is it possible to even detail the revelations, as they come out by the minute, all major Italian news sources vying to rush out the sordid details of over a thousand published wiretaps that represent only one percent of the wiretaps made in the past two years on the case.

The recent case of Tarantini's arrest by the Procura of Naples on charges of extortion was meant to sidetrack the Bari case which has finally been made public.

I'll try to explain this.

front-paged with an edit by afew

The Procura of Naples was forced to compromise their investigation and arrest Tarantini immediately because Berlusconi's weekly Panorama published a scoop on the top secret investigation. By doing so, a key player, Valter Lavitola, was able to avoid arrest by staying abroad once the scoop was announced on internet. He in fact called Berlusconi from Sofia asking for advice. Berlusconi told Lavitola to stay abroad while he would "get them off the hook." The downbeat is that since Berlusconi is the victim, the Naples procura summoned him to be interrogated as a victim and witness. By law Berlusconi cannot refuse and could be forcibly conducted to testify.

In order to avoid this, Berlusconi quickly contrived a state trip to Strasburg last Tuesday to "illustrate" Italy's budget plan to Barroso and Von Rompuy plus a "private" courtesy visit to Buzek. Buzek was apparently annoyed and clipped that he would dedicate all of two minutes to Berlusconi. Etiquette has it that the head of a community government is supposed to present himself before the Assembly on visits, something that Berlusconi abhors with Martin Schulz waiting at the crossroads. During his visit with Von Rompuy Berlusconi went into a nine minute monologue before the press declining the services of simultaneous translation. He remarked that what he had to say was directed only at the Italian reporters and refused to answer questions. He essentially attacked the Italian press and the opposition for ruining Italy and its image abroad.

The Naples Procura was unimpressed and remarked that he still had four more days to present himself. In the meantime Tarantini cannot be brought before a judge to decide his release or detention until Berlusconi has been interrogated. In effect Berlusconi's refusal to appear is keeping a man in jail.

A major stumbling block is that a witness must tell the truth and cannot be reticent by law, something a defendant need not do. A defendant has a right to lie all she wishes and may not be pursued for her lies. Berlusconi is accustomed to being a defendant, which corresponds to his nature: in his deposition during the Sme-Ariosto trial he managed to say 80 lies in 115 minutes. The poor fellow is anthropologically incapable of telling the truth. It's therefore no wonder that he has decided to attend the Mills trial on Monday where, as a defendant, he'll feel at home. Of course, Tarantini may not stand the duress in all this, something that Berlusconi must gamble on. After all, he saved Lavitola from prison but did not lift a finger for Tarantini. Not the most gracious thing to do for one's favourite pimp.

But what does this have to do with Bari? Apparently, one of the reasons Tarantini and Lavitola were extorting money and favours from Berlusconi was because Tarantini could enter a plea bargain with the Bari procura thus closing the case of running a prostitution ring with influence peddling for Berluconi's benefit without the publication of the investigation proceedings. Effectively, it was more in Berlusconi's interest that the acts not be published and Tarantini frankly didn't see why he should take the rap without adequate compensation. After all, the entire scandal had ruined him and his family. His style of life required more than the 20,000 euro a month Berlusconi was already shelling out.

The Bari procura was suspected of trying to stall the investigation. The chief prosecutor Antonio Laudati was said to be so agitated by the enormity of the revelations that he would welcome any solution that would have prevented their public deposition. This emerged in wiretaps between Tarantini and Lavitola as well as formal complaints lodged with the CSM. The CSM, the governing body of the judiciary branch, sent inspectors to investigate the allegations. At this point the Bari procura had no choice, if ever it was the case, but to deposit the proceedings as of Friday, 16 September.

Panorama certainly did its job in reporting the Naples secret investigation but Berlusconi's ownership warrants suspicion. The Naples investigation has been compromised but Pandora's box has been broken open in the process.

And that is what's behind the AP blurb making the rounds.

For the next few weeks headlines out of Italy can be classified under porn, more porn, or corruption in national and international relations. I'll now be glad to floor any questions.

Update: il Fatto Quotidiano has put online the main document that summarizes the investigation and charges brought against the eight defendants in the Bari case.

I'm floored. And since the details will come out by the minute, please stand by. Milla Grazie.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 05:43:01 AM EST
He's flooring questions, not you, but you can ask questions from the floor if you want...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 10:31:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even though I have lived in Italy for 20 years now, I still have trouble understanding these stories through the newspapers, so thank you for explaining this so clearly. In particular I now understand better why Berluska doesn't want to be a witness. Although I guess that if he lied  under oath, he would just become defendant in yet another infinite trail, so what's the difference?

I don't really expect you to be able to explain the unexplainable, but still I have one really big question: why does Lega Nord stay with him??? It should be clear that they won't get anything out of the government except for a bit of token harassment of gypsies. The "federalismo" doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Lega Nord has already been punished at the last local elections. Even Calderoli noticed, and he doesn't give the impression of being the sharpest tool in the box.

Real capricorns don't believe in astrology.

by tomhuld (thomas punkt huld at jrc punkt it) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 12:31:18 PM EST
We don't really understand either; and we don't live in the country :)
Welcome to ET, by the way!
by Bernard (bernard) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 02:34:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome back – he is not a new user, but lurked for a long time!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 02:45:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Politics anywhere is a rule of numbers. The Lega base is in revolt but the revolt is against Berlusconi more than Bossi. The party is based on a cult of the personality and Bossi has neither the health nor the lucidity to continue as a leader. But without him the Lega Nord is likely to implode unless another charismatic imposture is acclaimed leader.

The Lega Nord doubled its votes in the last general elections in 2008 and had this bargaining chip to become disproportionately represented in the Berlusconi government and parliamentary institutions. There's no way the Lega Nord is going to give that up on principals, a mere epiphenomena evoked by any party to lull the faithful.

I think it's just cold calculation. This is the Lega's high point. They'll never again have the clout they now enjoy. With that in mind and the prospects of certain defeat and emargination in the next elections, they might as well get as much as they can out of the present in terms of political dividends and just plain, good old money.


by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 04:17:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC News - Italy scandal: Silvio Berlusconi in 'sex boast'

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 Giampolo 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.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 03:43:23 PM EST
Of the eleven women he was only able to service eight that evening. Berlusconi on another occasion told "Gianpi" [Jampee] Tarantini that he had 67 women on call in his villa and had just bought up bordering property so as to host more.

I've long given up on the quality of BBC news.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 04:22:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, they are British you know.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 04:34:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
nasty little mannikin, a strutting, rutting viagra ad, revoltingly smug and salaciously, vulgarly venal. a new nadir point for european heads of state.

a nero for our times...

thanks for the diary, de G.

may his evil star fall from the euro-firmament, taking his blackshirt lega thug enablers with it, preferably before he hocks the whole country to the chinese.

what a blot! italy can, no must do better than this.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Sep 17th, 2011 at 08:00:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A few years ago

Berlusconi speaking against prostitution, especially of minors. "Sono vere e proprie schiave, che patiscono questa condizione intollerabile"

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Sep 18th, 2011 at 01:56:15 AM EST
Berlusconi has until midnight to present himself for questioning. If he doesn't show up,
Già da domani mattina, quindi, i magistrati potrebbero cominciare a esaminare le procedure per chiedere che la Camera dei Deputati autorizzi l'accompagnamento coattivo del testimone.
i.e., the magistrates can start examining the procedure for asking the Camera to approve them to force him to testify.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Sun Sep 18th, 2011 at 03:49:29 PM EST
Which is why he's going to Milan tomorrow to put on a show at the Mills trial. There will be his well paid fans, he'll seek a confrontation, and deliver a vitriolic speech against communist judges, the press and a subversive opposition which wants to overturn a lawfully elected coalition and abolish democracy. If there's a fight, all the better.

Actually the expression "accompagnamento coattivo"  means that the witness is to be forcibly conducted before the prosecutors by lawful forces, usually the carabinieri.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Sep 18th, 2011 at 05:39:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
de Gondi:
usually the carabinieri.

i wonder if it'll be the same ones who used to escort the girls to papi.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Sep 18th, 2011 at 09:37:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is interesting to compare this to Clinton's problems...
by asdf on Mon Sep 19th, 2011 at 11:18:49 AM EST
For starts, Monica wasn't the younger sister of an Albanian mobster's mole. Nor did Clinton send in his pussy brigade to persuade CEO's to clinch backdoor deals with his pimp.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Sep 19th, 2011 at 06:22:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Clinton's problem was blown out of proportion....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Sep 20th, 2011 at 12:30:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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