Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi proved once again on Thursday that he is untouchable.
Police arrested businessman Giampaolo Tarantini and his wife Angela Devenuto for trying to blackmail Berlusconi with scandalous evidence of misdeeds. The couple allegedly hired prostitutes for the Prime Minister's infamous Bunga Bunga orgies, and used the information to extort money from the billionaire politician.
Tarantini and his wife were arrested at their apartment in Rome early Thursday morning. Police confirmed that they are searching for one more person involved in the incident. The warrant attests that Berlusconi paid the pair 500,000 euros ($700,000) as well as other benefits of economic significance.
I helped someone and a family with children who found themselves and continue to find themselves in very serious financial difficulty, Berlusconi told Italian magazine Panorama, denying that the payments were blackmail.
I didn't do anything illegal, I limited myself to helping a desperate man without asking for anything in exchange. That's how I'm made and nothing will change that.
Berlusconi is considered the victim and is not involved in the prostitution case. He is however the defendant in a number of other trials.
The 74-year-old politician and media mogul was brought to court in April on prostitution charges after it was alleged that he paid for sex with an underage Moroccan dancer on multiple occasions. Both Berlusconi and 17-year-old Karima El Mahroug -- stage name Ruby -- deny that they had sexual intercourse, but after multiple delays the trial is finally set to begin.
The Bunga Bunga scandal began last fall when it was discovered that the always outrageous Berlusconi was throwing parties, during which he had relations with scores of women, many of whom were said to have been given cash and jewels. Berlusconi said the prizes were simply gifts for his friends.
As part of the investigation, police tapped the Prime Minister's phone. They recorded a conversation between Berlusconi and Tarantini, during which the Prime Minister addressed the many prostitution allegations that he's faced over the past three years. In the tape, Berlusconi sounds noticeably frustrated with his tarnished reputation.
They can say about me that I screw. It's the only thing they can say about me. Is that clear? Berlusconi said in the recording, The Guardian reports.
They can put listening devices where they like. They can tap my telephone calls. I don't give a f--k. I… In a few months, I'm getting out to mind my own f-----g business, from somewhere else, and so I'm leaving this s----y country of which I'm sickened.
The Prime Minister has already stated that he will not seek re-election once his term is up in 2013.