- - Thursday, September 1, 2011

ITALY

Police: Prostitute’s friend extorted money from Berlusconi

ROME | Italian police arrested a businessman on charges of extorting money from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to ensure the man’s cooperation in a probe about recruiting prostitutes to attend wild parties at Mr. Berlusconi’s home.

Giampaolo Tarantini and his wife, Angela Devenuto, were picked up in Rome on Thursday morning, and a third suspect is being sought, police in Naples said. Mr. Berlusconi is not under investigation in this case.

Mr. Tarantini has admitted paying high-end prostitute Patrizia D’Addario and other women to attend parties at Mr. Berlusconi’s residences but insists the prime minister didn’t know.

Mr. Tarantini is currently under investigation in Bari for allegedly aiding and abetting prostitution.

Naples Prosecutor Francesco Greco said Mr. Berlusconi had paid the Tarantini family’s legal and housing costs, with the end result aimed at securing Mr. Tarantini’s cooperation in the Bari prostitution investigation.

IRAQ

35 terror suspects tunnel out, most recaptured

BAGHDAD | Thirty-five Iraqi terror suspects tunneled their way out of a prison Thursday, but most were quickly recaptured, officials said.

Abdul-Raheem al-Shimmary, the head of the security committee on the provincial council, said 21 of the detainees were recaptured soon after they escaped at dawn through a 160-foot tunnel they dug from the prison in Iraq’s northern Nineveh province.

The city was locked down Thursday as security forces, with U.S. air support, searched for the remaining 14.

The detainees were being held at an Interior Ministry facility on terrorism-related charges. Mr. al-Shimmary said they had links to al Qaeda.

The U.S. commander in the region said the escapees were involved in planting roadside bombs and other activities.

Two Iraqi officials with knowledge of the investigation said the tunnel led to a sewage pipe and then to the Tigris River. They said there were indications that the prisoners had inside help, and that officials were looking into how the detainees were able to obtain digging tools.

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