Increased clamour for Berlusconi's resignation


ITALIAN PRIME minister Silvio Berlusconi faced an increasing clamour for his resignation last night, in the wake of the media frenzy prompted by his alleged involvement in another sex scandal.

Even as Mr Berlusconi was again addressing the nation on TV to declare his innocence, opposition forces were calling on him to resign, arguing that he was bringing discredit to Italy.

Italian and international media in recent days have given extensive coverage to the news that Mr Berlusconi is under investigation by Milan-based magistrates in relation to the charges of “abuse of public office” and of “exploitation of underage prostitution”. The allegations relate to a series of “sexy” parties held last year in Mr Berlusconi’s private Milan residence in Arcore, while the “underage prostitution” accusation concerns [then] 17-year-old Moroccan, Karima “Ruby” El Mahroug.

The furore prompted by the announcement of the investigation by the Milan prosecutors last weekend has gathered pace this week following the presentation to parliament on Monday of a 389-page dossier from the magistrates. That dossier was produced in order to justify a request to search the Milan offices of one of Mr Berlusconi’s close associates, Giuseppe Spinelli, a man alleged to be the paymaster for the bevy of young women who attend the prime minister’s parties in Villa San Martino, Arcore.

In theory, the contents of the dossier should have been known only to those deputies who form part of parliament’s immunity commission. In practice, and in a very Italian way, however, the sizzling details of the dossier, describing aspects of the “Sultan’s Nights” at the prime minister’s home have found their way into a plethora of Italian media sources.

Thus, even as women Democratic Party (PD) deputies demonstrated outside government house and even as the Italy of Values party staged a protest outside the presidential palace, Mr Berlusconi, for the second time in four days, launched another impassioned counterattack on TV.

Declaring his innocence and railing against the abuse of power by magistrates, Mr Berlusconi promised that parliament would soon enact “those reforms which will ensure that magistrates can no longer illegally try to bring down a person elected by the people”. Furthermore, Mr Berlusconi appeared to threaten the judiciary when he spoke of “punishment” for those who continued to illegally investigate him.

“It is simply unheard of to threaten reprisals on the judiciary”, commented senior PD figure, Anna Finocchiaro, adding: “It is absolutely grotesque that . . . Berlusconi can find nothing better to do than to attack the institutions of this country, doing so in a subversive way . . .”