The granddaughter of Benito Mussolini is to suffer the ignominy of seeing her husband put on trial for allegedly paying for sex with schoolgirl prostitutes in Rome.
Mauro Floriani, an ex-police officer and the husband of the MP and former topless model Alessandra Mussolini, is accused of having several encounters with the under age escorts, who were aged just 14 and 15.
In a scandal that shocked Italians when it broke two years ago, it emerged that at least 50 men paid for sex with two schoolgirls, including middle-aged professionals and the son of a senator with Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party.
They were working out of a smart apartment building in the upmarket Rome district of Parioli. Prosecutors have requested that Mr Floriani be sent to trial for the alleged offences.
National Alliance deputy Alessandra Mussolini (R) with her husband Mauro Floriani in 1997 (EPA)
Paying for sex with a woman under the age of 18 is a crime under Italian law and if found guilty, Mr Floriani faces up to six years in prison.
Mr Floriani said that he found the girls through an escort website but had no idea that they were under age.
But other men told police that as soon as they had seen the girls, they realised how young they were and walked away from the encounters.
Mr Floriani has three children with Ms Mussolini, the granddaughter of the fascist leader and a prominent Right-wing MP who frequently professes admiration for “Il Duce”.
They have been married since 1989.
Ms Mussolini, who had an early career as an actress and whose aunt is the screen legend Sophia Loren, reportedly told friends that the revelations about her husband’s alleged involvement in the prostitution ring have “destroyed” her life.
The affair was particularly embarrassing because Ms Mussolini had served as the head of a parliamentary committee on children’s rights.
Her husband and other suspects were caught after police intercepted their phone calls and recorded them allegedly discussing the encounters with the schoolgirls.
Nicknamed by colleagues “Captain Mussolini”, Mr Floriani was a high-ranking officer in the Guardia di Finanza, Italy’s tax and border police, before joining Trenitalia, the national railway company, as a manager.
Eight people involved in the prostitution ring have been convicted so far, including the mother of the 14-year-old, who was sent to jail for six years.
She allegedly encouraged her daughter to sell herself for sex, charging men €300 (£213) for each encounter, which took place after she finished school.
Mirko Ieni, the ‘pimp’ behind the network, was jailed for 10 years.
Of the alleged clients, 11 struck plea bargains with the courts and were given suspended sentences of one year in jail.
They were each fined €1,000. Police are continuing their investigations into at least 20 other alleged clients.