Berlusconi attacks ‘vile’ Mafia allegations
Rome — Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Sunday denounced press reports of his alleged links to the Mafia as "the most unbelievable, vile attack" he had suffered in recent years.
In a statement, Berlusconi said he and his government had done more than anyone else to battle the Mafia and he would seek damages against the La Repubblica-L’Espresso newspaper group.
"Any reasonable, sensible person reading the newspapers over the last few days can see we are talking about the most incredible, vile attack I have suffered in recent years," Berlusconi said in a statement.
"If anyone is free of Mafia connections, it is me (…) If any government has made fighting the Mafia a priority, it is my government," he said.
The prime minister said he would take legal action against the La Repubblica-L’Espresso media group to get compensation for the damages suffered by him, his family and his Fininvest holding company.
Berlusconi and his allies regularly accuse the daily La Repubblica and weekly L’Espresso of mounting personal campaigns against the prime minister.
On Saturday Berlusconi dismissed as unfounded and defamatory reports suggesting he might have been implicated in bomb attacks carried out by the Italian underworld in 1992 and 1993.
According to legal submissions by former Mafia man Gaspare Spatuzza, Berlusconi and Senator Marcello Dell’Utri were trusted political contacts for his boss, Giuseppe Graviano.
"Everything’s been worked out with the politicians. We’ve got everything we wanted," Graviano is said to have told Spatuzza in January 1994.
Dell’Utri has already been sentenced to nine years in prison for having Mafia connections, though he is appealing against the verdict, and Spatuzza is due to give evidence at the appeal court on Friday.