Berlusconi wins brief respite from sex scandals

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Wellington, Feb 4 (ANI): Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi won some brief respite from the sex scandals when parliament denied prosecutors' request to search some of his properties.

In a much-needed victory for the embattled leader, parliament on Thursday rejected the prosecution requests in a 315-298 vote that came after a four-hour debate in the lower house, reports Stuff.co.nz.

They sent the case back to the prosecutors, challenging their jurisdiction.

The 74-year-old Premier has denied wrongdoing and insists the allegations are politically motivated.

Milan prosecutors allege that Berlusconi paid for sex with a minor and then used his office to cover it up.

They wanted to search the offices of a Berlusconi's accountant Giuseppe Spinelli, who allegedly handled payments on behalf of the Premier to the minor as well as other payments to a number of young women who attended parties at his villas.

The vote will likely have limited impact on the investigation.

Magistrates are planning to go ahead with their probe and are expected to issue a request to indict Berlusconi as early as next week.

But Thursday's vote was a significant victory in a test of Berlusconi's grip on parliament.

The Premier's once comfortable parliamentary majority became shaky after he fell out with an ally last year, and he barely survived a pair of confidence votes in December.

"The vote assures the majority that it still has the numbers to go ahead, however narrowly," said Francesco Verderami, a political analyst for Corriere della Sera.

"As far as the judicial battle is concerned, nothing changes. 'Politically it is step forward for Berlusconi," he added. (ANI)

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