A leading Italian photographer has alleged that mafia gangsters claim to possess compromising photos of Silvio Berlusconi at wild "bunga bunga" sex parties.
Fabrizio Corona is known as the 'king of the paparazzi'
Fabrizio Corona, who runs a celebrity photography agency, claimed that members of the Camorra mafia in Naples are trying to sell the alleged images to gossip magazines.
"Representatives from a big weekly magazine went to Naples to buy photos of Berlusconi from the underworld," he told an Italian television programme.
He said there were nude pictures of the Italian prime minister, but later appeared to backtrack, saying none of the images were "obscene".
Mr Corona, who is known as the "king of the paparazzi," also claimed that there had been a mysterious break-in at his photo agency, with thieves stealing several computer discs from his extensive picture archives, although he denied that he had any photos of Mr Berlusconi.
Prosecutors are expected to request as early as today that the prime minister, 74, be sent for trial on allegations of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, an erotic dancer known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, and of abusing his office by having her released on theft charges.
Investigators have compiled hundreds of pages of evidence which they claim prove that "several" women prostituted themselves at Mr Berlusconi's parties at his villa outside Milan. He has denied all the claims.
Mr Corona has had legal troubles of his own and is appealing against a conviction for blackmailing celebrities with compromising photos.
But his allegations widened the investigation from Milan to Naples, with prosecutors now seeking to interview him.
Eleonara de Vivo, 28, one of two twin showgirls in Mr Berlusconi's circle, lives in Naples with her businessman boyfriend, who has been investigated for suspected mafia association after allegedly receiving protection from the Camorra for his slot machine business. It is not suggested she is guilty of any wrongdoing.
Riot police and protesters clashed during a demonstration outside Mr Berlusconi's mansion near Milan on Sunday.
The protest started out as a peaceful anti-Berlusconi rally but a group of around 300 people broke off and threw bottles and stones at police guarding Villa San Martino, injuring several officers.
President Giorgio Napolitano said that the right to carry out protests should not degenerate into "inadmissible disorder and clashes provoked by extremist groups".