Controversies surrounding Silvio Berlusconi

Silvio Berlusconi is an Italian media mogul and train Prime Minister of Italy who owns the largest broadcasting company in that country, Mediaset . His promises to sell off his personal assets to avoid conflicts of interest were never fulfilled, which sparked controversy throughout his terms in office. Berlusconi is a controversial figure in modern Italian politics: his tenure as Prime Minister was racked up with scandalous affairs and poor judgment and making. These events were widely covered by the media, drawing out of many of his Italian contemporaries and worldwide counterparts.

Controversies

Economic conflicts of interest

According to journalists Marco Travaglio and Enzo Biagi , Berlusconi entered politics to save his companies from bankruptcy and himself from convictions . [1] From the very beginning he said it clearly to his associates. Berlusconi’s supporters hailed him as the ” novus homo “, an outsider who was going to bring a new efficiency to the public bureaucracy and reform the state from top to bottom.

While investigating these matters,

  • Mediobanca’s annual report on the 10 biggest Italian companies showed that, in 1992, Berlusconi’s media and finance group Fininvest had about 7.140 billion read of debts , 8.193 billion read of assets (with 35% of liquidity) and a net worth of 1.053 billion read. The asset-debt ratio is a patrimonial situation bordering on bankruptcy. quote needed ]
  • Between 1992 and 1993, Fininvest was investigated several times by prosecutors in Milan, Turin and Rome. The investigations considered: alleged bribes (to political parties and public officials with the aim of getting contracts), alleged fake invoicing by Publitalia, the financing of political congresses and abuse of television frequencies.
  • On the other hand, Bruno Vespa noted that “In January 1994, Silvio Berlusconi was under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance. later-have fallen. Aldo Brancher , Who Was working with Fininvest at the time, Was charged for HAVING financement Some booths at the ” Feste dell’Unità ” and ” Avanti! Paolo Berlusconi, Chairman of the Board of Directors[Silvio Berlusconi’s brother] was arrested […] after the Cavaliere went into politics. ” [2] Berlusconi was investigated for more than two years. [2]

Controversy concerning Berlusconi’s ‘conflicts of interest’ is usually centered around the use of his media and marketing power for political gain. However, there is also controversy regarding its financial gains. When the Senate is being run by a two-man team appointed by the Presidents of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate (both in Berlusconi’s coalition), the state broadcaster has increased its viewers, but lost a significant share of its advertising revenue to the rival Mediaset group, owned and run by the Berlusconi family, which has a large personal gain. quote needed ]

Berlusconi’s governments has passed some laws Romano Prodi, who defeated Berlusconi in 2006, claimed that these were ad personam laws, meant to solve Berlusconi ‘s problems and defend his interests. [3] [4] [5] [6]

Relationship with media

Media control and conflict of interest

Berlusconi’s extensive control over the media has been widely criticized by some analysts, [7] some press freedom organizations, and extensively on several Italian newspapers, national and private TV channels by opposition leaders and in general opposition parties members, who allege Italy’s media has limited freedom of expression . However, such coverage of the complaint in the context of the complaint itself. The Freedom of the Press 2004 Global Survey , an annual study issued by the American organization Freedom House , downgraded Italy’s ranking from ‘Free’ to ‘Partly Free’ [8]Berlusconi’s influence over RAI, a ranking of which, in “Western Europe” was shared only with Turkey (as of 2005 ). Reporters Without Borders states that in 2004, “The conflict of interests involving prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and his vast media empire was still not resolved and continued to threaten news diversity”. [9] In April 2004, the International Federation of Journalists joined the criticism, objecting to the passage of a law by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 2003, which criticizes is designed to protect Berlusconi’s reported 90% control of the Italian national media. [10]

Berlusconi owns via Mediaset 3 of 7 National TV Channels: ( Canale 5 , Italia 1 , and Rete 4 ). Berlusconi’s personal business empire and his political office, it is necessary to look at the structure of governmental state television. according to whom? ] Under the law, the speakers of the two houses add the RAIpresident and board of directors. In practice, the decision is a political one, resulting in some opposition leaders becoming directors, while top managerial posts go to people sympathetic to the government. It was normal to have two directors and the president who was opposed to it. A parliamentary supervisory commission also exists, whose chairman is traditionally a member of the opposition. During the tenure of Mr. Baldassarre as RAI president, the two opposition directors and the one closer to the Union of Christian and Center Democrats left over internal Disagreements That Mainly Regarded censorship issues. RAI continued to be run by a two-man team (mockingly nicknamed by the opposition the Japaneseafter the Japanese soldiers who kept fighting in the Pacific Ocean after the end of World War II). quote needed ]

The former Italian center-left coalition of Romano Prodi has been criticized for failing to enter into a law of conflict between the two countries. 2001. in 2002, Luciano Violante , a prominent member of the Left, Said in a speech in Parliament : “Honorable Anedda, I invite you to ask the honorable Berlusconi Certainly Because He knows That he received a full guarantee in 1994. When the he knew it and the Honorable Letta knows it. ” [11] [ verification needed]

The authors of the book Inciucio [12] cites this sentence as evidence for the idea that the Left made a deal with Berlusconi in 1994, in which the Constitutional Court of Italy would have required Berlusconi to give up one of the three TV channels in order to uphold pluralism and competition. According to the authors, this would be an explanation of why the Left, despite having won the 1996 elections, did not pass a law to solve the conflicts of interest between media ownership and politics.

Berlusconi’s influences over RAI est devenu obvious When in Sofia, Bulgaria he Expressed His views were journalists Enzo Biagi and Michele Santoro , [13] and comedian Daniele Luttazzi . Berlusconi said that they “use television as a criminal means of communication”. They lost their jobs as a result. [14] This statement was called by critics ” Editto Bulgaro “.

The TV broadcasting of a satirical program called RAIot was censored in November 2003 after the comedian Sabina Guzzanti made outspoken criticism of the Berlusconi media empire. [15] Mediaset, one of Berlusconi’s companies, sued RAI over Guzzanti’s program, demanding 20 million euros for “damages”; in November 2003 the show was canceled by the president of RAI, Lucia Annunziata. The details of the event were made into a Michael Moore -style documentary called Viva Zapatero! , which was produced by Guzzanti.

Mediaset, Berlusconi’s television group, has stated that it uses the same criteria as the public (state-owned) RAI television in the most important political parties and movements (the so-called ‘By Condicio’) – which has been since often disproved. [16] [17] In March 2006, on the television channel Rai Tre , in a television interview with Lucia Annunziata during his talk show, in 1/2 h , he stormed out of the studio because of a disagreement with the host journalist regarding the economic consequences of his government. [18]In November 2007, allegations of news manipulation caused the departure from RAI of Berlusconi’s personal assistant. [19]

Enrico Mentana , the news anchor long seen as a guarantor of Canale 5’s independence, walked out in April 2008, saying that he no longer felt “at home in a group that seems like an electoral (campaign) committee” [20]

On 24 June 2009, Silvio Berlusconi during the Confindustria young members congresses in Santa Margherita Ligure, Italy has invited the advertisers to cut or boycott the advertising contracts and the magazines published by Gruppo Editorial L’Espresso , [21] in particular the Repubblica and the news magazine L’espresso , calling the publishing group “shameless”, [21] Because the economic crisis is fueling speaking more and more about it and accusing aussi to make a subversive attack contre _him_ to replace with an “a-Elected” . [22]Berlusconi, to protect the image and the interests of the group. [22]

On 12 October 2009, Silvio Berlusconi during the Confindustria Monza and Brianza members congresses, has again invited the industrialists present to a “widespread rebellion” against a “newspaper that had not any limits in discrediting the government and the indoctrinating foreign newspapers” . [23]

In October 2009, Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Jean-François Julliard declared that Berlusconi “is on the verge of being added to our list of Predators of Press Freedom”, which would be a first for a European leader. He added that Italy will probably be considered last in the European Union in the upcoming edition of the RWB press freedom index . [24]

The Economist 

One of Berlusconi’s strongest critics in the media outside Italy is the British weekly The Economist (nicknamed by Berlusconi “The Ecommunist” ), “Why Silvio Berlusconi is unfit to lead” Italy. [25] The war of words entre Berlusconi and The Economist HAS Gained notoriety, with Berlusconi Taking the issue to court in Rome and The Economist publishing letters contre _him_. [26] Berlusconi is ‘unfit’ for office [27]because of his numerous conflicts of interest. Berlusconi claimed the article contained “a series of old accusations” that was an “insult to truth and intelligence”.

According to the Economist ‘ s findings, Berlusconi, while Prime Minister of Italy, retained effective control of 90% of all national television broadcasting. This figure does not directly affect the position of the Prime Minister and its ability to influence the choice of the management bodies of these stations. The Economist has also claimed that the Prime Minister is corrupt and self-serving. A key journalist for The Economist , David Lane, Berlusconi’s Shadow . [28]

Lane points out that Berlusconi has not defended himself in the past, but has been relied upon in the field of political and legal manipulation. Berlusconi to sue The Economist for libel. Berlusconi did so, [29] losing versus The Economist , and arguing against the Economics of the United States.

In June 2011, The Economist published a strong article dealing with Mr. Berlusconi, titled “The Man who screwed an entire country”. [30]

Friendship with Bettino Craxi

Berlusconi’s career as an entrepreneur is also often questioned by his detractors. The allegations made against him by the construction industry in the years 1961-63, hinting at the possibility that in those years he is coming from sources of income and possibly illegal sources. These accusations are regarded by Berlusconi and his supporters as empty slander , trying to undermine Berlusconi’s reputation as a self-made man. Also referred to by the opponents of the 1980s, including “favor exchanges” between Berlusconi and Bettino Craxi , the former Socialist prime minister and leader of the Italian Socialist Partyconvicted in 1994 for various corruption charges. The Honorable Judiciary in the United States of America, Mr. Craxi, in their ” Clean Hands “, investigates the problem of the law of the state of the law. Itself. [31] Berlusconi acknowledges a personal friendship with Craxi.

Legislative changes

On some occasions, which raised a strong upheaval in the Italian political opposition, laws passed by the Berlusconi administration have effectively delayed ongoing trials on him. Relevant examples are the law reducing punishment for all cases of false accounting and the law on legitimate suspicion, which allowed defendants to request their cases to be moved to another court if they believe that the local judges are biased against them.7, 8 Because of these legislative actions, political opponents accuse Berlusconi of passing these laws for the purpose of protecting himself from legal charges. An enquiry realised by the newspaper La Repubblica sustained that Berlusconi passed 17 different laws which have advantaged himself;[32] Berlusconi and his allies, on the other hand, maintain that such laws are consistent with everyone’s right to a rapid and just trial, and with the principle of presumption of innocence(guarantism); furthermore, they claim that Berlusconi is being subjected to a political “witch hunt”, orchestrated by certain (allegedly left-wing) judges11.

For such reasons, Berlusconi and his government have an ongoing quarrel with the Italian judiciary, which reached its peak in 2003 when Berlusconi commented to a foreign journalist that judges are “mentally disturbed” and “anthropologically different from the rest of the human race”, remarks that he later claimed he meant to be directed to specific judges only, and of a humorous nature12. More seriously, the Berlusconi administration has long been planning a judiciary reform intended to limit the flexibility currently enjoyed by judges and magistrates in their decision-making, but which, according to its critics, will instead limit the magistrature’s independence, by de factosubjecting the judiciary to the executive’s control. This reform has met almost unanimous dissent from the Italian judges13, 14 and, after three years of debate and struggle, was passed by the Italian parliament in December 2004, but was immediately vetoed by the Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi 15, because of the unconstitutionality of some of the passed laws.

Berlusconi has also been indicted in Spain for charges of tax fraud and violation of anti-trust laws regarding the private television network Telecinco, but his status as a member of the European Parliament allowed him to gain immunity from prosecution until 2005.16 All the accused have been acquitted by the Spanish Supreme Court in July 2008.[33][34]

During the night hours between 5 and 6 March 2010, the Berlusconi-led Italian government passed a decree interpreting the electoral law so as to let the PDL candidate run for governor in Lazio after she had failed to properly register for the elections. The Italian Constitution states that electoral procedures can only be changed in Parliament, and must not be changed by governmental decree. Italy’s President, whose endorsement of the decree was required by law, said amid much controversy that the measure taken by the government may not violate the Constitution.[35][36]

Alleged links to the Mafia

Berlusconi, in order to solve his problems, has to solve ours.
— Mafia boss Giuseppe Guttadauro in a wiretapped conversation.[37]

Silvio Berlusconi has never been tried on charges relating to Cosa Nostra, although several Mafia turncoats have stated that Berlusconi had connections with the Sicilian criminal association. The claims arise mostly from the hiring of Vittorio Mangano, charged for Mafia association, as a gardener and stable-man at Berlusconi’s Villa San Martino in Arcore, a small town near Milan. It was Berlusconi’s friend Marcello Dell’Utri who introduced Mangano to Berlusconi in 1973.[38][39] Berlusconi denied any ties to the Mafia. Marcello Dell’Utri even stated that the Mafia did not exist at all.

In 2004 Dell’Utri, co-founder of Forza Italia, was sentenced to nine years by a Palermo court on charge of “external association to the Mafia”,[39][40] a sentence describing Dell’Utri as a mediator between the economical interests of Berlusconi and members of the criminal organisation. Berlusconi refused to comment on the sentence. In 2010, Palermo’s appeals court cut the sentence to seven years but fully confirmed Dell’Utri’s role as a link between Berlusconi and the mafia until 1992.[41]

In 1996, a Mafia informer, Salvatore Cancemi, declared that Berlusconi and Dell’Utri were in direct contact with Salvatore Riina, head of the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s and 90s. Cancemi disclosed that Fininvest, through Marcello Dell’Utri and mafioso Vittorio Mangano, had paid Cosa Nostra 200 million lire (between 100 000 and 200 000 of today’s euro) annually. The alleged contacts, according to Cancemi, were to lead to legislation favourable to Cosa Nostra, in particular the harsh 41-bis prison regime. The underlying premise was that Cosa Nostra would support Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party in return for political favours.[42] After a two-year investigation, magistrates closed the inquiry without charges. They did not find evidence to corroborate Cancemi’s allegations. Similarly, a two-year investigation, also launched on evidence from Cancemi, into Berlusconi’s alleged association with the Mafia was closed in 1996.[38]

According to yet another Mafia turncoat, Antonino Giuffrè – arrested on 16 April 2002 – the Mafia turned to Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party to look after the Mafia’s interests, after the decline in the early 1990s of the ruling Christian Democrat party, whose leaders in Sicily looked after the Mafia’s interests in Rome. The Mafia’s fall out with the Christian Democrats became clear when Salvo Lima was killed in March 1992. “The Lima murder marked the end of an era,” Giuffrè told the court. “A new era opened with a new political force on the horizon which provided the guarantees that the Christian Democrats were no longer able to deliver. To be clear, that party was Forza Italia.”[43] Dell’Utri was the go-between on a range of legislative efforts to ease pressure on mafiosi in exchange for electoral support, according to Giuffrè. “Dell’Utri was very close to Cosa Nostra and a very good contact point for Berlusconi,” he said.[44] Mafia boss Bernardo Provenzano told Giuffrè that they “were in good hands” with Dell’Utri, who was a “serious and trustworthy person”. Provenzano stated that the Mafia’s judicial problems would be resolved within 10 years after 1992, thanks to the undertakings given by Forza Italia.[39][43]

Giuffrè also said that Berlusconi himself used to be in touch with Stefano Bontade, a top Mafia boss, in the mid 1970s. At the time Berlusconi still was just a wealthy real estate developer and started his private television empire. Bontade visited Berlusconi’s villa in Arcore through his contact Vittorio Mangano.[45] Berlusconi’s lawyer dismissed Giuffrè’s testimony as “false” and an attempt to discredit the Prime Minister and his party. Giuffrè said that other Mafia representatives who were in contact with Berlusconi included the Palermo Mafia bosses Filippo Graviano and Giuseppe Graviano.[46] The Graviano brothers allegedly treated directly with Berlusconi through the business-man Gianni Letta, somewhere between September/October 1993. The alleged pact with the Mafia fell apart in 2002. Cosa Nostra had achieved nothing.[47]

Dell’Utri’s lawyer, Enrico Trantino, dismissed Giuffrè’s allegations as an “anthology of hearsay”. He said Giuffrè had perpetuated the trend that every new turncoat would attack Dell’Utri and the former Christian Democrat prime minister Giulio Andreotti in order to earn money and judicial privileges.[45]

In October 2009, Gaspare Spatuzza, a Mafioso turned pentito in 2008, has confirmed Giuffrè statements. Spatuzza testified that his boss Giuseppe Graviano had told him in 1994 that Berlusconi was bargaining with the Mafia, concerning a political-electoral agreement between Cosa Nostra and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia. Spatuzza said Graviano disclosed the information to him during a conversation in a bar Graviano owned in the upscale Via Veneto district of the Italian capital Rome. Dell’Utri was the intermediary, according to Spatuzza. Dell’Utri has dismissed Spatuzza’s allegations as “nonsense”. Berlusconi’s lawyer and MP for the PdL, Niccolò Ghedini said that “the statements given by Spatuzza about prime minister Berlusconi are baseless and can be in no way verified.”[48]

Foreign relations

Russia

Berlusconi has a warm relationship with Vladimir Putin.[49]

In November 2007 Italy’s state-owned energy company Eni signed an agreement with Russian state-owned Gazprom to build the South Stream pipeline.[50] Investigating Italian parliament members discovered that Central Energy Italian Gas Holding (CEIGH), a part of the Centrex Group, was to play a major role in the lucrative agreement. Bruno Mentasti-Granelli, a close friend of Berlusconi, owned 33 percent of CEIGH. Italian parliament blocked the contract and accused Berlusconi of having a personal interest in the Eni-Gazprom agreement.[50][51]

On 1 December 2010, Wikileaks leaked American state diplomatic cables showing that American officials voiced concerns over Berlusconi’s extraordinary closeness to Putin, “including ‘lavish gifts,’ lucrative energy contracts and a ‘shadowy’ Russian-speaking Italian go-between”. Diplomats consider him “to be the mouthpiece of Putin” in Europe.[52]

According to one of the leaked cables the Georgian ambassador in Rome has told to the American officials that Georgia believes Putin has promised Berlusconi a percentage of profits from any pipelines developed by Gazprom in coordination with Eni S.p.A..[53]

Belarus

Berlusconi visited Belarus and met its authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko in 2009. Berlusconi became the first Western leader to visit Lukashenko since the latter came to power in 1994. In the press conference Berlusconi paid compliments to Lukashenko and said “Good luck to you and your people, whom I know love you”.[54][55]

Libya

During much of Berlusconi’s government Italy gradually reconciled with Libya of Muammar Gaddafi. Italy gets a quarter of its oil and about 10% of its gas from Libya, and enterprises from both countries have strong interests in the other economy. Berlusconi’s escort girls helped Gaddafi to gain the leadership of the African Union in 2009.[56] During the first days of the 2011 Libyan civil war Berlusconi was initially cautious, painting Libya not as a military priority but a humanitarian one. In the following days the Italian government condemned the use of violence and suspended the friendship treaty with Libya signed in 2008.[57]

Remarks on Western civilisation and Islam

After the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York, Berlusconi said: “We must be aware of the superiority of our civilisation, a system that has guaranteed well-being, respect for human rights and – in contrast with Islamic countries – respect for religious and political rights, a system that has as its value understanding of diversity and tolerance.”[58][59] This declaration caused an uproar, not only in the Arab and Muslim world, but also all around Europe, including Italy.[60] Subsequently Berlusconi told the press: “We are aware of the crucial role of moderate Arab countries… I am sorry that words that have been misunderstood have offended the sensitivity of my Arab and Muslim friends.”[61]

Right-to-die case

After the family of Eluana Englaro (who HAD-been comatose for 17 years) succeeded in HAVING her right to die Recognized by the judges and getting doctors to start the process of Allowing her to die in the way Established by the short, Berlusconi Issued a decree to stop the doctor from letting her die. Stating that, “This is murder, I would be failing to rescue her.” I’m not a Pontius Pilate, “Berlusconi went on to defend his decision by claiming that it was” in the condition to have babies “, [62] arguing that comatose women were still subject to menstruation. Critics said that this controversial move had been staged to repair relations with the Vatican, following the harsh criticism of the Berlusconi administration’s treatment of immigrants. quote needed ]

Jokes, gestures, and blunders

Berlusconi has developed a reputation for making gaffes or insensitive remarks. [63]

On 2 July 2003, Berlusconi suggests that German SPD MEP Martin Schulz , who had criticized his domestic policies, should play a Nazi concentration camp guard in a movie. [64] Berlusconi insisted that he was joking, but accused Schulz and others to be “bad-willing tourists of democracy”. This incident caused a brief cooling of Italy’s relationship with Germany. [65]

Addressing traders at the New York Stock Exchange in September 2003, Berlusconi listed a series of reasons to invest in Italy, the first of which was “we have the most beautiful secretaries in the world”. This remark resulted in uproar in Italy where female members of parliament took part in a one-day cross-party protest. [66] Berlusconi’s list also included the claim that Italy had “fewer communists, and those who are still here having one”. [67]

In 2003, during an interview with Nicholas Farrell, then editor of the Spectator , Berlusconi claimed that Mussolini “had been a benign dictator who did not kill the enemies of them ‘on holiday'”. [68]

Berlusconi had made disappearing remarks about Finnish cuisine during negotiations to decide on the location of the European Food Safety Authority in 2001. He caused further offense in 2005, when he claimed that during the negotiations he had to “dust off his playboy charms” in order to persuade the Finnish president, Tarja Halonen , to concede that the EFSA should be based in Parma instead of Finland, and compared Finnish smoked reindeer unfavorably to culatello . The Italian ambassador in Helsinki was summoned by the Finnish foreign minister. [69]One of Berlusconi’s ministers later explained that “anyone who had seen a picture of Halonen must have been aware that he had been joking”. Halonen took the incident in good humor, retorting that Berlusconi had “overestimated his persuasion skills”. [70] The Finnish pizza chain Kotipizza responded by launching a variety of pizza called Berlusconi Pizza , using smoked reindeer as the topping. The pizza won first prize in America ‘s International Plate pizza contest in March 2008. [71] [72]

In March 2006, Berlusconi alleged that Chinese communists under Mao Zedong had “boiled [children] to fertilize the fields”. [73] His opponent Romano Prodi criticized Berlusconi for offending the Chinese people and called his comments ‘unthinkable’. [74]

In the run-up to the 2008 Italian general election , Berlusconi was angrily accused of sexism for saying that female politicians of the right were “more beautiful” and that “the left has no taste, even when it comes to women”. [75] In 2008 Berlusconi criticized the composition of the Council of Ministers of the Spanish Government as being too ‘pink’ by virtue of the fact that it has (anoint the President of the Council, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero , is counted) an equal number of men and women. He also stated that he would have such a composition that he would be possible in Italy given the “prevalence of men” in Italian politics. [76]

Also in 2008 Berlusconi caused controversy at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin . When Russian journalist Nezavisimaya Gazeta asked a question about Putin’s personal relationships, Berlusconi made a gesture towards the journalist imitating a gunman shooting. [77] [78]

On 6 November 2008, two days after Barack Obama was elected the first black US President, Berlusconi referred to Obama as “young, handsome and even tanned”: [79] [80] [81] On 26 March 2009 he said “I ‘ m paler [than Mr. Obama], because it’s been so long since I went sunbathing, he’s more handsome, younger and taller. ” [82]

Subsequently, at 30,000 people who lost their homes during the 2009 earthquake he said to an African priest: “you have a nice tan.” [83]

On January 24, 2009, Berlusconi announced his interest to increase the numbers of military patrolling the Italian cities from 3,000 to 30,000 in order to crack down on what he called an “evil army” of criminals. This would be a problem for women who would like to know that they would be more likely to be infected, but he said: “We could not field a big enough force to avoid this risk [of rape]. I think that would be possible, because we are so beautiful. ” Opposition leaders called the insensitive and in bad taste. Berlusconi retorted that he had just wanted to compliment Italian women. Another criticism of the author of a police state . [84]

On April 3, 2009, Berlusconi appeared at Queen Elizabeth II at a photo session during the G20 summit . During the photo session, Berlusconi shouted “Mr. Obama, Mr. Obama”, “What is it? Why does he have to shout? ” [85] [86 [86]The following day, at the NATO meeting in Kehl , Berlusconi was while talking on his mobile phone, while Merkel and other NATO leaders waited for him for a picture on Rhine bridge [87] (afterwards, Berlusconi claimed He Was talking to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğanabout accepting the Secretary Generalship of Anders Fogh Rasmussen ). Responding to the Italian media’s reaction to these incidents, he said that he was considering “hard measures” against reporters, and referred to some of their claims as “slander”. [88]

Two days after the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake , Berlusconi suggests that people should have a camping weekend. [89] While touring the earthquake site, he asked Lia Beltrami, “Can I fondle you?”. [90]

In May 2009, Berlusconi alleged that he had two hundred-year-old church in the Finnish countryside which, in his opinion, would have been demolished if it was in Italy. Berlusconi had made a non-official visit to Finland in 1999 and had never seen any Finnish church, but had just been visiting Iceland . [91] [92]

In October 2010, Berlusconi was chastised by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano after he was filmed telling “offensive and deplorable jokes”, including one in which he died. It was also revealed to be anti-Semitic joke a few days previously. Berlusconi responded to the allegations by saying the jokes were “neither an offense nor a sin, but merely a laugh”. [93]

On November 1, 2010, after being accused of involvement in juvenile prostitution, he suggested that an audience at the Milan Trade Fair should stop reading newspapers: “I do not read the newspapers any more because they deceive you. […] I I look at some good-looking girl, it’s better to be gay. ” [94] The remarks were immediately condemned by Arcigay , Italy’s main gay rightsorganization, on behalf of both women and gay people; Paolo Patanè said that it was “unacceptable for a head of government to foster a chauvinistic and vulgar attitude” with such a statement, and requested that Berlusconi apologize. Politicians including Nichi Vendola , Antonio Di Pietro , and Franco Grillini released similar statements, with the latter commenting that it was “better to be gay than to be sex-addicted schemer like Berlusconi.” [95] [96] Flavia Madaschi, president of Agedo, the Italian equivalent of PFLAG , also commented that it was “better to be gay than Berlusconi.” [97]Activists staged an anti-homophobia protest outside Palazzo Chigi . [98]

On July 13, 2011, Berlusconi told his presumed blackmailer Valter Lavitola: “The only thing they can say about me is that I screw around […] Now they’re spying on me, controlling my phone calls I do not give a fuck In a few months […] I’ll be leaving this shit country that makes me sick. ” [99] He had already made a comment about sending a postcard from the Bahamas in 2005. [100]

Assault at rally

On December 13, 2009 Berlusconi was a hit with an alabaster [101] statuette of Milan Cathedral after a rally in Milan’s Piazza del Duomo . As Berlusconi was shaking hands with the public, a man in the crowd stepped forward and launched the statuette at him. The assailant was subsequently detained and identified as Massimo Tartaglia, a 42-year-old surveyor with a history of mental illness but no criminal record, living in the outskirts of Milan. [102] [103]According to a letter released to the ANSA news agency, Tartaglia has apologized for the attack, writing: “I do not recognize myself”, and adding that he had “acted alone [with no] form of militancy or political affiliation”. Berlusconi has suffered a facial injury, has broken nose and two broken teeth; he was subsequently hospitalized. [104] Italian president Giorgio Napolitano and politicians from all parties in Italy condemned the attack.

In the night of December 15-16, Berlusconi’s bodyguards while trying to gain access to Berlusconi’s hospital room. A search revealed that he was one of two hockey sticks and two knives were later found in his car. The suspect was known to have a history of mental illness and mandatory treatment in mental institutions. [105]

Berlusconi was discharged from the hospital on 17 December 2009. [106]

Sexual scandals

Wiretaps and accusations of corruption

In December 2007, Berlusconi, then leader of the opposition parties, and Agostino Sacca (general director of RAI ) were published by the magazine L’espresso and causes scandal in several media. [107] The wiretap was part of an investigation by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Naples , where Berlusconi was investigated for corruption. [108]In the phone call, Sacca expresses words of impassioned political support to Berlusconi and criticizes the behavior of Berlusconi’s allies. Berlusconi urges Sacca to broadcast a telefilm series which was strongly advocated by his ally Umberto Bossi. Saccà laments that many people have rumors spread on this agreement causes problems to him. Then Berlusconi asks for a job in this field. This article is only available in French. [109] [ clarification needed ]After the publication of these wiretaps, Berlusconi has been accused by politicians and by some journalists of political corruption through the exploitation of prostitution. Berlusconi said, in his own defense: “In the entertainment world everybody knows that, in certain situations in RAI TV you work only if you prostitute yourself or if you are leftist. been completely set apart by RAI TV. ” [110] In the US State Department ‘s 2011 Trafficking in Persons Reported by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Mr. Berlusconi was reportedly a person involved in the “commercial sexual exploitation of a Moroccan child”. [111] [112]

Prostitution scandal and divorce

At the end of April 2009, Veronica Lario wrote an open letter expressing her anger at Berlusconi’s choice of young, attractive female candidates-with a little or no political experience-to represent the party in the 2009 European Parliament elections . Berlusconi asked a public apology, claiming that for the third time his wife had “done this to me in the middle of an election campaign”, and stated that there was little prospect of his marriage. [113] On 3 May, Veronica Lario announced she was filing for divorce following her husband’s attendance at a girl’s 18th birthday party in Casoria , Naples. [114] [115]She claimed that Berlusconi had not attended to her own “18th birthday parties,” and that she “can not remain with a man who is not so well”. [116] [117] Noemi Letizia, the girl in question, gave interviews to the Italian press, revealing that she calls Berlusconi “papi” (“daddy”), which they would have spent in the past, and that Berlusconi would take care of her career as a showgirl or politician, whichever she opted to pursue. [118]

In the following days Silvio Berlusconi gave explanations about the incident to [119] [120] and television, [121] [122] swearing that he knew the girl only through her father and that he never met her alone without her parents. [123] However, on May 14, the Repubblica newspaper published an article showing the many inconsistencies and contradictions arisen so far and formally asking Berlusconi to answer the questions in order to clarify the situation. [123] [124]

Ten days later, Letizia’s ex-boyfriend Luigi Flaminio claim that Berlusconi had contacted the girl personally in October 2008, impressed by her “purity” and “angelic face” after seeing pictures of her in a photobook, brought to him by the journalist Emilio Fede (director of TG4 ). Flaminio also mentioned that she had spent a week with her parents at Berlusconi’s Sardinian villa around New Year’s Eve 2009, [125] . [126] Photographs of the event taken by a paparazzo were confiscated by the Prosecutor’s Office of Rome for violation of the privacy [127] but a selection of those photos was published in El País on June 4. [128][129] [130]

On May 28, 2009, Silvio Berlusconi said that he had never had “spicy” relations with Noemi Letizia, also swearing on his children’s heads. He said that if any such thing had happened, he would have resigned immediately. [131]

On 17 June 2009, Patrizia D’Addario, has 42-year old escort and retired actress [132] from Bari , Italy the evening, and the night, with Berlusconi. [133] magistrates in Bari are Investigating this case, since the friend Could Be prosecuted for favouring prostitution .

Silvio Berlusconi denied any knowledge of D’Addario being a paid escort: “I have never paid a woman … I have never understood what satisfaction there is if the pleasure of conquest is absent”. [134] He also admitted to an unspecified person of maneuvering and paying D’Addario (accusations which she vehemently denied). [135]

Berlusconi’s Rome residence (Palazzo Grazioli), [136] While photos and transcripts of audio cassettes circulated widely in the press. These descriptions have been raised, in particular, concerning the lack of security measures and the uncontrolled access to the prime minister’s residence. [137]

On 26 June 2009, the ” 10 questions ” to Berlusconi were reformulated by the newspaper Republika, and then frequently republished on it. [138] No answers were given, until August 28, 2009, when Berlusconi sued Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso , the owner company of the newspaper, and defined these questions as “defamatory” and “rhetorical”. [139]

Berlusconi’s lifestyle has raised eyebrows in Catholic circles, with vigorous criticism being expressed by the newspaper Avvenire , owned by the Conferenza Episcopal Italiana (Conference of Italian Bishops). Reviews This was Followed by the publication in the newspaper Il Giornale (owned by the Berlusconi family) with regard to details of legal proceedings Against the editor of Avvenire , Dino Boffo, qui Seemed to implicate _him_ for a harassment case Against the former wife de son partner. [140] Dino Boffo has always declared the details of the proceedings to be false, but he has not denied the basic premise. [141]

After a period of tense exchanges and polemics, on 3 September 2009, Boffo resigned from his editorial position [142] [143] and the assistant editor Marco Tarquinio became editor ad interim . [144]

On September 22, 2009, Silvio Berlusconi said that he had asked his questions about “gossip”. He stated that the Italian press should be commented on the “successes” of Italian Government in internal and foreign policies, adding that it will not be possible to ask questions in L’Aquila “, ie relating to his administration and not to gossip . [145]

During a [146] [147] episode of AnnoZero on 1 October 2009, the journalist and Michele Santoro interviewed Patrizia D’Addario. [148] She was contacted by Giampaolo Tarantini – a businessman from Bari – who already knew her presence at Palazzo Grazioli with “the President”. [149] D’Addario also stated that Berlusconi knew that she was a paid escort. [150]

Ruby Rubacuori

In November 2010, Moroccan teenage belly dancer and prostitute prostitute Karima El Mahroug (better known as ” Ruby Rubacuori “) has been given $ 10,000 by Berlusconi at parties at his private villas. Berlusconi and 20 young women performed an African-style ritual known as ” bunga bunga ” in the nude. [151] [152]It was also found out that on May 27, 2010, El Mahroug had been arrested for theft by the Milan Police Butt (being still a minor). However, following Berlusconi to the police authorities (in which, in particular, he falsely pointed out that El Mahroug was a relative relative of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt ), the young woman was released and entrusted to the care of PDL regional counselor (and Berlusconi’s personal dental hygienist) Nicole Minetti. [153] [154] The investigation of Berlusconi for extortion ( it: concussione ) and child prostitutionregarding Karima El Mahroug has been referred to as ” Rubygate “. [155] MP Gaetano Pecorella proposed to lower the age of majority in Italy to solve the case. [156]

Berlusconi has also come under fire for reportedly spending $ 1.8 million in state funds from RAI Cinema to further the career of a largely unknown Bulgarian actress, Michelle Bonev. The fact that this coincided with severe cuts being made to the country’s arts budget provoked a strong reaction from the public.

On June 24, 2013, Berlusconi was convicted for paying with Karima El Mahroug and sentenced to seven years in prison. [157] [158]

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