Ms Letizia sports the gold and diamond pendant given to her by the PM
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has denied having an affair with an underage girl and said he would resign if he was caught lying about it.
Mr Berlusconi said that if someone asked had he had “a spicy or more than spicy” relationship with a minor, his answer would be “absolutely not”.
“I have sworn this on the lives of my children,” he told reporters in Rome.
Mr Berlusconi, 72, is under pressure to explain his relationship with Noemi Letizia, 18, an aspiring model.
His wife, Veronica Lario, announced earlier this month that she was divorcing him after it was reported that he had attended Ms Letizia’s 18th birthday party in Naples and given her an expensive necklace
“I cannot remain with a man who consorts with minors,” she said.
Mr Berlusconi said he had only gone to Ms Letizia’s party because he happened to be in Naples that day and was an old family friend.
But photographs later emerged of them together at several social events last year, when she was 17. The prime minister also confirmed that she had stayed at his villa in Sardinia and attended a new year’s party there.
During a meeting with reporters in Rome on Thursday, Mr Berlusconi repeated previous denials that he had had sex with a minor.
BEING MRS BERLUSCONI
In Feb 2007, Veronica demanded a public apology from her husband for his flirting, to which he replied with a written one
In the 2004 biography Veronica’s Tendency she revealed that “Silvio eats lunch while attached to the phone and dinner is the same”
Veronica rarely accompanies her husband on foreign trips
The couple met in 1980, wed 10 years later and have three children in their 20s
Mr Berlusconi has said he was smitten when he first saw the 24-year-old actress on stage.
“I have answered the only question that anyone has the right to ask me: ‘Prime minister, have you had a, let’s say, spicy, or more than spicy, relationship with an underage girl?’ The response is: ‘Absolutely not,’” he said.
“I am aware that, if this were perjury, I would have to resign a minute later.”
The age of consent in Italy is 16, but people under 18 are considered minors.
The comments come a day after the leader of the opposition Democratic Party, Dario Franceschini, asked Italians at a European Parliament election rally: “Would you want your children brought up by this man?”
The question provoked a furious response from Mr Berlusconi’s children, who have rarely made public statements in the past.
“Angry?” asked Marina, his eldest daughter from his first marriage and chairman of publisher Mondadori, in an interview for Corriere della Sera.
“I am indignant. Furious. No, this is enough. This time, I don’t intend to stay silent. My father has always worked a lot, but there has never been a time, a single time, in which I did not have him near when I needed him.”
Her younger brother, Mediaset deputy chairman Pier Silvio, demanded to know how Mr Franceschini dared make such a “bad taste” remark.
The premier’s three youngest children also said in a statement that they had been “brought up in a family atmosphere that was balanced and full of values”.
“Politics should not turn to judging the role of a father, which has nothing to do with politics,” Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi said.
Full article and photos: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8072646.stm
Berlusconi denies ‘steamy affair’ with teen
Italian PM says he would have to resign if caught lying about relationship with 18-year-old, an explosive political issue.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, facing demands to explain his relationship with a teenage girl, denied he had a “steamy affair” and said he would have to resign if caught lying about it.
The 72-year-old conservative leader’s relationship with an 18-year-old has become an explosive political issue after his wife Veronica demanded a divorce because of his womanizing and said he was “not well.”
Mr. Berlusconi has denied any wrongdoing or lying in his apparently contradictory explanations of why he went to Noemi Letizia’s 18th birthday and gave her an expensive necklace. He has promised to explain it all in parliament but he has not set a date.
He told reporters in Rome that if someone asked whether he had “a relationship, let’s say steamy or more than steamy, with an underage girl,” his answer would be: “Absolutely not.”
“I have sworn it on the life of my children. And I said that I am aware that, if this were perjury, I would have to resign a minute later,” said Mr. Berlusconi, who was elected for a third time last year and enjoys strong support in opinion polls.
The flamboyant media magnate normally has the support of the Roman Catholic establishment in Italy, but it has criticized him for setting a bad example to the country’s young people with his behaviour and his very public second divorce. The age of consent for sex in Italy is 16 but people under 18 are considered minors. Ms. Letizia turned 18 last month and was photographed with Berlusconi at her birthday party, and at other social events last year when she was 17.
The opposition has targeted Mr. Berlusconi’s behaviour ahead of European elections in June and centre-left leader Dario Franceschini, on the campaign trail, asked bambini-loving Italians: “Would you have your children raised by this man?”
The comment proved too much for Mr. Berlusconi’s offspring. They rarely make public statements — they refused to take sides when Veronica asked for a divorce this month — but they reacted with fury to Mr. Franceschini’s remark.
“Angry? I am indignant. Furious. No, this is enough,” Marina, Mr. Berlusconi’s daughter from his first marriage and chairman of publisher Mondadori, which is part of Berlusconi’s business empire, told Corriere della Sera newspaper. “This time, I don’t intend to stay silent … My father has always worked a lot, but there has never been a time, a single time, in which I did not have him near when I needed him.”
Son Pier Silvio, deputy chairman of the Berlusconi family broadcasting company Mediaset, demanded to know in a statement how the opposition leader dared make such a “bad taste” comment and said he shared his father’s values.
Mr. Berlusconi’s three children with Veronica Lario also put out a statement saying they were “brought up in a family atmosphere that was balanced and full of values.”
“Not everything can be put to an opinion poll. As for the question on whether a father is capable of raising a child, the only ones who can respond to that are the children themselves,” Barbara, Eleonora and Luigi Berlusconi said in the statement.
“Politics should not turn to judging the role of a father, which has nothing to do with politics.”
Full article: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/berlusconi-denies-steamy-affair-with-teen/article1157081/
The battle of the Berlusconis
Veronica Lario has referred to her husband as Italy’s Napoleon
In Italy’s latest soap opera – Silvio Berlusconi’s divorce – former actress Mrs Berlusconi may well have landed one of the greatest roles of her life: as a role model to her Italian sisters.
Mr Berlusconi has demanded that his wife apologise to him
Fifty-two-year-old Veronica Lario – her former stage name – has shaken Italian society with her public criticism of Italy’s head of government, and the demand for a divorce from her partner of 29 years.
For the long-suffering Mrs Berlusconi, revelations that her 72-year-old husband attended the birthday party of an 18-year-old lingerie model who calls him Papi – Daddy – was the latest in a series of public humiliations.
Apart from one public outburst in 2007, she has remained silent about the PM’s behaviour. But enough is enough, she says. She recently denounced his behaviour, his political methods and a culture of machismo that she said offended women’s dignity.
“I can’t go on being with a man who consorts with minors… He is not well,” she said after his appearance at Noemi Letizia’s party in Naples.
She also voiced her anger over plans by Mr Berlusconi’s coalition to line up several attractive young women for June’s European Parliament elections, describing the party’s list as “shamelessly trashy” and a “dangerous degradation of Italian politics”.
Maria Laura Rodota, a commentator with Corriere della Sera’s popular online forum on pop culture and politics – in Italy, the two go hand-in-hand – says Mrs Berlusconi has “struck the most formidable and effective challenge to Berlusconi’s mystique to date”.
But, she says, “it’s extraordinarily sad that it had to be his wife who denounced him and not a female politician or the leader of the opposition”.
The “Noemi and the Papi” episode together with the election affair have left many Italian women feeling uncomfortable.
For once, the dividing lines between right and left have been blurred. Influential female intellectuals and commentators from across the political spectrum have rallied to Veronica’s defence – albeit on small comment-led newspaper, websites and TV programmes.
Even right-wing politician Alessandra Mussolini, grand-daughter of Il Duce, supported the PM’s wife, saying that Italian women had “emerged in a very bad light from this episode”.
Ms Letizia sports the gold and diamond pendant given to her by the PM
But there are few signs yet of the marital saga harming Mr Berlusconi politically.
“Italians identify totally with him,” said Giuliano Ferrara, the editor of il Foglio Newspaper, which is partly owned by Veronica Lario.
Mr Berlusconi controls much of the mainstream media, and since her public comments, the first lady has taken a battering in the press. Libero, for one, ran a 30-year-old picture of the former actress topless on stage under the headline: “Veronica Ungrateful Showgirl”.
“She now must apologise for having embarrassed me,” proclaimed her husband in a charm offensive on national and foreign TV channels.
His position, shared by many Italians, is that she should have kept quiet about the reasons of her divorce, as it was a private matter and not a political one.
The former cruise crooner, turned media tycoon, turned right-wing politician, has rewritten the rules of Italian politics over the past 15 years, blurring the lines between TV, showbiz and politics.
Gender issues researcher Lorella Zanardo suggests that over his three mandates, Mr Berlusconi media interests have shaped a popular culture that distorts images of women.
Mr and Mrs Berlusconi were not often seen out in public together
But, while the media has fed Italians for years with gossip and reality TV intrusions into people’s privacy, most Italians think he should be granted total privacy when it comes to his own conduct.
According to one recent poll, he still enjoys 66% popularity – even though the majority of Italians, 67%, defend Veronica Lario.
However, another poll published this week on the La Repubblica website, suggested his rating had slipped three points since the controversy over Noemi began.
Responsibility as a mother
“Berlusconi’s media are now engaged in what appears to be a massive spin operation to divert attention, in order to bury the first lady’s serious criticisms and accusations,” says Corriere della Sera’s Ms Rodota.
“But… I record a growing, ebullient cross-party female indignation online. It might be a minority, but it is significant in a country which is ranked almost last in Europe, with Turkey, for the freedom of the press, and I think in the long term the ‘Noemi-gate’ will have political consequences.”
Mrs Berlusconi – until now unanimously respected as an intelligent woman known for her discretion and liberal and anti-war views – said she was compelled to act because of her responsibility towards her three children.
To the girls Barbara, 25, and Eleonora, 23, she wants “to show them that their mother can defend her dignity as a woman”, and to Luigi, 20, to teach him that “respect for women must be one of the most important values for a man”.
Meanwhile, on social networking site Facebook, “Veronica for President” groups multiply.
She appeared to speak for many of the 62% of Italians who did not vote for Mr Berlusconi, when she said: “I have come to wonder what kind of country we live in. Through some strange alchemy, this country appears to forgive all and justify all for its new emperor.”
Some commentators have noted that Mr Berlusconi’s party quietly dropped most of the attractive female candidates from its European list, after Mrs Berlusconi’s outburst.
It may be a small victory, but it’s certainly seen by some as a symbolic one.
Full article and photos: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8044711.stm
The Crime of the Cavaliere
Read Full Post »