Friday, May 29, 2009

Teen model puts Italy PM’s job on the line

Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Photo/REUTERS

Italy Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Photo/REUTERS 

By EMEKA-MAYAKA GEKARA and Agencies

An 18-year-old aspiring model, Noemi Letizia, could help Italians achieve what they have failed to do for the past 15 years: kick out Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The Italian Parliament has asked Mr Berlusconi to explain the mystery of the relationship between him and the girl, 54 years younger than him. He may be impeached if it is proved that the bond is inappropriate.

Early this month, Italian paper Repubblica published an interview with Letizia’s ex-boyfriend, Gino Flaminio, in which he said there were inappropriate interactions between Mr Berlusconi and the schoolgirl.

The PM’s second wife, Veronica, filed for divorce after he attended Ms Letizia’s 18th birthday party last month and gave her a diamond necklace worth Sh648,000. Ms Letizia calls him “Papi”—Italian for father.
But Veronica reckons the teenager from Naples County is either his illegitimate child or lover. “I cannot stay with a man who frequents minors”.

Asked whether he had any relationship with the teenager, Mr Berlusconi denied any wrongdoing. He said he would resign if he is proved to have lied to his country.

Mr Berlusconi claims that he knows Ms Letizia and her mother through Benedetto Letizia, the girl’s father, who is a Naples council employee, describing him as “an old friend”.

Common touch

The premier has said he attended the birthday party because he happened to be in Naples that day.

However his claim that Mr Letizia was the former driver of Bettino Craxi, the former Prime Minister who was Mr Berlusconi’s political mentor and who died in exile in 2000, has been disproved.

Mr Berlusconi is believed to have seen the model’s naked pictures in a fashion magazine, Oggi, and contacted her.

Mr Letizia has insisted that their acquaintance was simply proof of the Prime Minister’s common touch.

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