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.