Berlusconi an embarrassment to Italy, says former deputy

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London, Nov 02 (ANI): Silvio Berlusconi's alleged intervention to free a teenage belly dancer from police custody is an embarrassment to Italy that should force his resignation, according to former deputy.

Gianfranco Fini, the leader of the lower house of parliament and an ally turned dissident within Berlusconi's ruling coalition, said the billionaire premier's link with 17- year- old Moroccan model Karima Keyek had harmed Italy.

Berlusconi, 74, has been reported to have personally telephoned a police station in Milan in May to order officers to free Keyek, also known by her stage name as Ruby, from custody.

The aspiring model, which is believed to be an illegal immigrant in Italy, had been arrested on suspicion of stealing 3,000 euro and valuables from an acquaintance.

"This story has gone around the world and has embarrassed Italy," the Telegraph quoted Fini, the co-founder of the governing People of Freedom party, as saying.

Berlusconi would be guilty of "the private use of his public powers" if it was confirmed, as claimed by police officers, that he had falsely told them that Keyek was the grand-daughter of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, and that they should release her into the care of one of his political appointees, former model and showgirl Nicole Minetti.

"It would show a certain immoral behaviour," Fini, who is widely seen as a potential successor to Berlusconi.

"If it is true, it would be time for him to step down."

Walter Veltroni, a former leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, said Berlusconi should resign and allow the formation of a government of national unity.

Berlusconi, who was engulfed in sex scandals last year involving a call-girl and a teenage underwear model, has admitted helping Keyek when she was in trouble but denies interfering with the justice system. His allies have described the allegations against him as a "media beat-up". Berlusconi must resign," said Antonio Di Pietro, the leader of the Italy of Values party and a former anti-corruption investigator.

"If he does not want to do it for Italians, he should do it for himself," the Di Pietro added. (ANI)

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