Berlusconi dismisses sex scandal protests

Silvio Berlusconi has dismissed the
hundreds of thousands of Italians who took part in protests against his
involvement in sex scandals, claiming he has always tried to make women feel
“special”.

The prime minister, who is due to
hear this week whether he will be sent to trial on allegations of abusing his
office and paying for sex with an underage prostitute, said he had always
behaved with “respect” towards women.

Prosecutors in Milan allege that
several showgirls and alleged escorts “prostituted themselves” with
him in exchange for bundles of cash, jewellery and help with their show
business careers.

But Mr Berlusconi dismissed the
nationwide protests, held in more than 100 Italian towns and cities in Italy,
as being manipulated by his political opponents and a biased judiciary and
media.

“I saw the usual partisan
mobilisation against my person by a Left-wing that uses any excuse to try to
beat an adversary they have not been able to beat democratically at the ballot
box,” he said, defying calls for his resignation.

He said the charges against him,
which carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, had “no correspondence
with reality.”

“Every woman that has had the
opportunity to know me knows my regard for them: I have always behaved with the
greatest attention and respect towards them,” the billionaire businessmen
said.

“I have always made it so that
every woman feels, how should I say, special.”

An examining magistrate in Milan is
expected to come to a decision this week on whether to grant prosecutors’
request for Mr Berlusconi to be sent immediately to trial.

Opinion polls showed that despite
all the scandals, Mr Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party still commands 27 per
cent of the vote and his Northern League coalition partners nearly 12 per cent,
compared with the Democratic Party’s 24 per cent.

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