May 5, 2009 / 8:54 PM / 10 years ago

Berlusconi denies relationship with 17-year-old girl

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi sits near an image of his wife Veronica Lario during the taping of the television program Porta a Porta ("Door to door" in Italian) in Rome, May 5, 2009. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday denied he had been involved with a 17-year-old girl, in response to comments made by his wife who has asked for a divorce.

“It’s a lie,” Berlusconi said in an interview on Italy’s main television talk show, in reference to the accusation over his relationship with Noemi Letizia, whose 18th birthday party he attended last month. Berlusconi’s wife Veronica Lario expressed her anger at Berlusconi’s presence at the party in announcing to several newspapers on Sunday that she wanted a divorce.

She said Berlusconi had never attended the 18th birthday parties of their own children, despite being invited, and suggested he had a relationship with Letizia.

“I cannot stay with a man who frequents minors,” Lario was quoted as saying in La Repubblica newspaper.

In Italy, people under the age of 18 are known as “minorenni” and are not considered to be adult, though the age of sexual consent is 14.

“Would the prime minister be so crazy to get into a situation like that,” Berlusconi said.

Speaking before a background with the words, “Now it’s my turn to talk,” he said he had willingly allowed himself to be photographed at the party attended by Letizia’s parents and friends, and therefore clearly had nothing to hide.

Berlusconi, who had previously said the break-up of his second marriage was a private affair that should not be discussed in public, insisted his wife had been tricked by the left into believing falsehoods about him.

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