Vatican criticizes Berlusconi, calls public leaders to show morality

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AHN All Headline News

21 January 2011

Prime minister described the charges as politically motivated and pledged to bring in new laws to prevent judges from pursing elected officials.

The Vatican says it is troubled about allegations that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s paid an under-age prostitute for sex.

In a rare public criticism, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said that the Catholic church called on public officials to “commit themselves to a more robust morality, a sense of justice and legality.”

Bertone shared the Vatican’s concerns with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano and said that they were closely following the matter. Napolitano also voiced similar concerns as he said public figures should show more “sobriety and responsibility” especially in times of austerity.

The Vatican’s comments came after magistrates opened an investigation into the allegations against the prime minister. Responding to the investigation, Berlusconi denied the charges and pledged to punish the judges behind it.

He described the charges as politically motivated and pledged to bring in new laws to prevent judges from pursing elected officials. Italian magistrates’ association’s President Luca Palamara immediately denounced Berlusconi’s comments and said that it “seriously threatened the autonomy and independence of the prosecutors.”

The gaffe-prone Italian premier has come under fire over an investigation in which prosecutors claim that an 18-year-old Moroccan belly-dancer, Karima El Mahroug, attended Berlusconi’s parties when she was a minor and alleged the media mogul paid her to have sex with him.

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