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Berlusconi was placed under investigation Dec. 21, the prosecutors said. They confirmed the probe Friday after Italy’s leading newspaper, Corriere della Sera, reported on it.

Many of the premier’s political allies said the latest probe was yet another attempt to hurt the premier by what they say are left-leaning magistrates.

“If someone … still believes that Silvio Berlusconi can be defeated through judicial means, once again they will be sorely disappointed,” said Daniele Capezzone, a spokesman for Berlusconi’s party.

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Associated Press Writer Colleen Barry in Milan contributed to this report.