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Italy: Fugitive in Berlusconi sex scandal arrested after months on run

last update: April 16, 12:16

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Rome, 16 April (AKI) - A fugitive accused of involvement in corruption and a sex scandal involving billionaire Italian politician Silvio Berlusconi was arrested Monday after six months on the run.

Ex-director and editor of Socialist newspaper Avanti! Valter Lavitola at 6:40 am local time was arrested at Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airport upon the arrival of his flight from Buenos Aires, Argentina before being transferred to a prison in Naples.

Prosecutors in September issued an arrest warrant for Lavitola for suspicion of having the job of passing hush money from Berlusconi money to Bari businessman Giampaolo Tarantini and his wife Angela Devenuto. The couple allegedly were blackmailing the former prime minister over a sex scandal involving prostitutes investigators say Tarantini provided for Berlusconi's sex parties.

On 24 August Lavitola allegedly telephoned Berlusconi from Sofia , Bulgaria to ask him if he should come home to answer prosecutors' questions."What should I do, return and clear everything up?" he said, according to excerpts of wiretaps released Thursday by left-leaning weekly L'Espresso magazine and republished on the front page of many of Italy's major newspapers . "Stay where you are," Berlusconi advised him, according to the published transcripts.

Blackmail charges against Tarantini and Devenuto have been dropped. Prosecutors now say Berlusconi paid money to Tarantini to offer false testimony that Berlusconi didn't realize the women were prostitutes.

Berlusconi is on trial in Milan for allegedly paying a minor for sex.

All the accused say they have done nothing wrong.


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