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Berlusconi denounces sex trial prosecutors

February 9, 2011

By Guy Dinmore in Rome, published: February 9 2011

Responding angrily to the possibility of facing a court on charges of sex with a juvenile prostitute and abuse of office, Silvio Berlusconi has denounced Milan’s prosecutors as ­“subversive”.

He insisted on Wednesday that his government’s stability was Italy’s guarantor on international market.A cabinet meeting and press conference in Rome to launch economic reforms was upstaged an hour earlier by prosecutors in Milan. They submitted to a judge the findings of their seven-week investigation into alleged prostitution at erotic “bunga bunga” parties hosted by the 74-year-old prime minister at his private villa.

A Milan judge has a week to decide whether there is sufficient evidence to accept the prosecutors’ request for an immediate trial without a preliminary hearing.

Mr Berlusconi, who also learnt during the past week that he was to face the resumption of two trials on charges of tax fraud and corruption involving his business empire, lashed out at the “disgusting disgrace” of “subversive” prosecutors, whom he accused of wrecking Italy’s standing abroad.

Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan nightclub dancer known by her stage name “Ruby”, says she was a paid guest of Mr Berlusconi but denies the prostitution allegations.

The prime minister says he has never paid for sex. He has explained that he thought she was related to Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s president, when he called a Milan police chief last May to inquire about her detention for suspected theft.

Opposition politicians and media commentators called the government’s launch of reforms a smokescreen to cover up for an administration paralysed by sex and corruption scandals and commanding only a slim majority in parliament.

The proposed reforms include incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises and a change to the constitution, which Mr Berlusconi said would “permit everything that is not expressly forbidden by the law”. Giulio Tremonti, the finance minister, who is trying to keep a debt mountain under control, said the reforms would not involve additional spending.

“The path we have launched will not be easy or short,” Mr Berlusconi said, forecasting gross domestic product growth this year of 1.5 per cent, considerably higher than Bank of Italy forecasts.

Italy needed continued stable government to maintain investors’ confidence and had demonstrated that its high public debt levels were sustainable.

Pointing to low rates of private debt, Mr Berlusconi claimed Italy was Europe’s second most solid economy after Germany.

Last week the government lost an important vote in a parliamentary committee over proposed municipal tax reforms.

Mr Berlusconi said the government would seek to push the bill through parliament in a vote of confidence that would curtail debate and amendments.

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