By Rita Delfiner. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was thrust deep into another sex scandal yesterday when photos of topless babes sunbathing at his villa and of a naked guy standing by the pool were made public. Questions about his private life, along with a probe into his alleged use of state planes to fly guests and entertainers to his private seaside mansion in Sardinia, have become explosive topics before European Union elections. The naughty shots included one of two women in string bikinis sunbathing topless. There was one of a naked man standing next to a woman poolside.
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The five photos show two scantily-clad young women relaxing in the villa's landscaped garden, as well as Mr Berlusconi walking in the garden beside another young woman, who is clothed. Aside from the Italian prime minister, all have their faces obscured by pixels and none is identified. The photographs will intensify a frenzied debate in Italy on the nature of Mr Berlusconi's relationship with a string of attractive young women, some of whom he has propelled into politics. Mr Berlusconi had successfully suppressed the images in his own country, with his lawyers persuading prosecutors to seize the photos and place the photographer who took them under investigation for alleged violation of privacy. But Antonello Zappadu, the photographer, had already sold the rights to the photos outside Italy, possibly explaining their publication by El Pais under the headline "The photos vetoed by Berlusconi.
Silvio Berlusconi and his associates mounted a vigorous damage-limitation exercise yesterday after the publication of photographs by a Spanish newspaper showing naked and semi-naked guests, including a former Czech prime minister, at his villa on Sardinia. One shows two young women topless, one wearing a tanga. Another is of a naked man standing by a swimming pool in what appeared to be a state of sexual arousal. Mirek Topolanek, the former Czech prime minister who was Berlusconi's guest last year, confirmed in Prague he was the man depicted. But added "It is clearly also the result of a photo-montage.
A picture showing two young women dressed only in thongs relaxing in the landscaped garden in Sardinia is among the five images. Mr Berlusconi is also pictured walking in the garden beside another young woman, who is clothed. Another photograph shows a naked man by an outdoor pool.