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Alleged Berlusconi sex tapes released

  • Story Highlights
  • D'Addario refuses to comment on authenticity of excerpts released Thursday
  • Berlusconi attorney calls act of publication "an illegal act"
  • La Repubblica: Conversation between D'Addario, Berlusconi took place at his home
  • La Repubblica publishes alleged conversation between D'Addario, businessman
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ROME, Italy (CNN) -- An Italian newspaper and magazine published excerpts of what they said were audio recordings of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi talking with an escort at the center of a corruption probe.

Veronica Lario, the wife of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, pictured, filed for divorce in May.

Veronica Lario, the wife of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, pictured, filed for divorce in May.

The daily La Repubblica and its sister magazine L'Espresso said the recordings posted on their Web sites Monday were of Berlusconi and Patrizia D'Addario. She has said that an Italian businessman hired her and other women to attend parties at Berlusconi's homes.

In June, D'Addario told CNN that she had turned the tapes over to a prosecutor in Bari, southern Italy. Through her attorney, she refused to comment on the authenticity of the excerpts released Monday.

But in a statement carried by the Italian news agency ANSA, Berlusconi lawyer Niccolo Ghedini said the prime minister is challenging the "truthfulness and legality" of the recordings.

"We can only regard the material as worthless, completely false and the result of invention," Ghedini said. "In any case, the act of its publication is an illegal act in itself, which will need to be pursued, and all legal actions will be taken against any body who publishes such material."

Berlusconi, the 72-year-old media mogul-turned-prime minister, has denied the allegations.

According to La Repubblica, the conversation between D'Addario and Berlusconi took place in October and November at the prime minister's house in Rome. It also published an excerpt of what it said was a conversation between D'Addario and Gianpaulo Tarantini, the businessman accused of hiring D'Addario and other escorts.

Prosecutors in Bari, in southern Italy, are investigating allegations that Tarantini bribed health officials to buy prosthetics and other medical supplies from a company he and his brother own. Tarantini has denied any wrongdoing and says he brought women to the parties to make a "beautiful impression."

"I have never paid money to those who accompanied me except for refunding their trip expenses," he said in a statement issued last month. "I exclude that the premier could have been aware of these reimbursements and I want to ask forgiveness for having involuntarily damaged him."

Berlusconi's private life has been in the spotlight since his wife of 19 years, Veronica Lario, filed for divorce in May. The split followed reports that Berlusconi went to the birthday party in Naples of an 18-year-old girl, with whom Berlusconi has denied having an inappropriate relationship. And the Spanish newspaper El Pais has published what it said were photos of racy parties at Berlusconi's villa on the island of Sardinia, including one picture that showed scantily clad women.

But despite the swirl of scandal, Berlusconi remains popular, consistently scoring approval ratings well over 50 percent.

CNN's Hada Messia contributed to this report.

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