Culture And Media

Italy: Call girl 'fixer' tries to gag popular TV show

Rome, 1 October (AKI) - Giampaolo Tarantini, the businessman who allegedly supplied call girls to attend Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's parties was on Thursday trying to gag a prime time TV programme about him. Tarantini claims that the current affairs talkshow Annozero, due to be aired later on Thursday by state broadcaster RAI, could prejudice an ongoing judicial probe centred on him.

The 35-year-old entrepreneur is currently under house arrest in the southern Italian city of Bari, where he is being investigated for suspected drug trafficking, corruption and abetting prostitution.

"The dissemination on television - or in newspapers - of documents relating to a judicial investigation that is still taking place can only damage our client," Vito D'Ascola, one of two lawyers defending Tarantini, told Adnkronos.

D'Ascola has written to RAI's board of directors, to Italy's media watchdog and to Italy's economic development minister Claudio Scajola, demanding that Thursday's Annozero show be gagged.

The letter specifically asks for transcripts of prosecutors' interrogations of Tarantini and phone taps to be withheld.

The 42-year-old Italian escort Patrizia D'Addario, is among guests who have been invited to appear on Thursday's Annozero talkshow. She says she slept with Berlusconi at his Rome residence last November.

More than five million viewers tuned in to watch a 2.5 hour special edition of Annozero on 24 September, dedicated to press freedom, which featured D’Addario’s first television interview.

The conservative Italian government subsequently ordered an investigation to “verify the impartiality” of the programme.

RAI, could face a fine of up to 90 million euros after senior ministers issued a formal complaint accusing TV executives of waging a “media campaign based on prurience, rubbish, shame, infamy and dirt”.

D'Addario is among 30 women who have been questioned by prosecutors in connection with the judicial probe of Tarantini. And she has handed to prosecutors photos and audio recordings to back up her claims.

Excerpts and transcripts of the recordings were published in July on left-leaning daily La Repubblica and its sister weekly L'Espresso's websites.

Berlusconi has never denied he slept with D'Addario but says he has never paid a woman for sex.




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