The estranged wife of Premier Silvio Berlusconi says in a book published yesterday that it was her husband's alleged lies that pushed her to file for divorce at the outset of the sex scandal involving the Italian conservative leader.
In the book, Veronica Lario recalls how in April she made the decision after her husband failed to mention he would attend the birthday party of an 18-year-old model in Naples, telling her only about his official business in the southern city.
The premier's attendance at Noemi Letizia's party was later reported in the media and sparked a series of allegations over Berlusconi's purported fondness for young women.
Berlusconi, 72, has denied having any improper relationship with Letizia or any other women.
Tendenza Veronica, (Veronica's Trend), is a revised edition of a book first published in 2004 by journalist Maria Latella. In the new edition, she quotes Lario as saying that the Naples incident was only the latest problem in her relationship with her husband.
"It was the latest lie. Better then to try to seek a last way to respect myself, better to divorce," the 53-year-old Lario said. "He put me in this situation."
Lario, a former actress with whom Berlusconi has three children, said her husband's actions were embarrassing him at a global level.
"I cannot be his baby sitter and I cannot stop him any more from making himself ridiculous in front of the world," she said. "I'm done."
Latella told the reporters that the Naples party was "the turning point" for Lario.
"I asked her what about Noemi: 'Maybe she is your husband's daughter,'" Latella recalled. "Veronica's answer was: 'If she really were Silvio's daughter, I would open the door of my home, but I know she is not.'"
The public denunciation of Berlusconi that ensued wasn't the first time the usually private Lario openly complained about her husband's reported flirtations.
Two years ago, she received a quick and public apology from Berlusconi when she wrote an open letter to La Repubblica - a left-leaning paper fiercely critical of Berlusconi - complaining about her husband telling TV starlet Mara Carfagna: "If I weren't married, I would marry you immediately."
Carfagna is now Berlusconi's minister for equal opportunity.
Berlusconi has dismissed all the allegations as lies fabricated by the opposition and left-leaning media.
Although the scandal has been heavily played in the media for weeks, Berlusconi has so far kept his popularity in Italy largely intact. The center-right coalition, which won elections in the spring of 2008, has remained stable.