| ROME, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi blasted Milan prosecutors probing his alleged sex payments to a 17-year-old girl and using his office to cover them up.
SAVE MONEY ON TRAVEL DEALS
The prosecutors deserve to be "punished" for their politically driven "incredible violations of the law" aimed at "subverting the popular vote", Berlusconi, 74, said in an often-angry TV address, part of a campaign to dispute the allegations.
The surveillance techniques prosecutors used on guests at his Milan villa were "worthy of a Camorra dragnet", he said, referring to the alleged Mafia-type criminal organization in and around Naples.
Prosecutors allege Berlusconi had sex with several prostitutes during parties at his Milan estate.
Berlusconi -- Italy's third-richest man, worth an estimated $9 billion due to TV, newspaper, publishing, film, finance, banking, insurance and sports assets -- vowed to press ahead with "the necessary reforms to ensure that no magistrate can try to illegitimately get rid of someone who has been elected by the citizens", Italy's ANSA news agency quoted him as saying.
He also denied having sex with any of the women prosecutors allege, especially a teenager nicknamed Ruby, who he said told him she was 24 when he met her.
Ruby appeared on one of Berlusconi's TV stations to deny they had sex and to deny she asked Berlusconi for 5 million euros, or about $6.7 million, to keep quiet.
Thirteen percent of Italians think "Ruby-gate" will mark the end of Berlusconi's political career, while 24 percent think it's a "heavy signal" of his political decline, a poll by the French Ipsos S.A. global market research firm indicated.
Twenty-six percent think the affair will be forgotten within days and 24 percent expect the claims will boomerang, hurting Berlusconi's opposition and giving him more votes in the future, the poll indicated. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Related News Topics:
Sexual issues and news of sexuality
News of film and movies
Television programs and events
News of Italy and San Marino
Top news from around the world
Publishing, journalism and other media
News of Europe
News covering industry