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Europe

Berlusconi rival presents defense over property allegations

A rival of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has defended himself over reports he was involved in a property scandal. Gianfranco Fini said he would resign as a parliamentary speaker if the allegations were proven.

Gianfranco Fini

Fini hit out at a perceived press campaign against him

Gianfranco Fini, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's former ally turned political rival, has said he would stand down as speaker of the lower house of parliament, if claims about improper real estate dealings were proved to be true.

The Italian newspaper Il Giornale, run by Berlusconi's brother, is accusing Fini of selling an apartment in Monaco - left as a gift to his former party the National Alliance - to his own brother, Gianfranco Tulliani, at below its market value.

In a video message on Saturday evening, Fini said he did not know who the owner of the apartment was. The allegations state that the property was sold to a company used as a front by Fini's brother.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Berlusconi lost his majority when Fini split from his party

"If it turns out that Tulliani is the owner and that that my good faith has been betrayed, then I will not hesitate to leave the presidency of the chamber," said Fini.

Obsessive campaign

He also claimed the allegations against him in pro-Berlusconi newspapers were part of an "obsessive political and media campaign."

Fini's allies claimed a leaked document linking Tulliani with the apartment is false, and have said he is the target of a smear campaign.

Berlusconi lost his parliamentary majority in July when Fini and his supporters left the People of Freedom party, which Fini founded with Berlusconi.

Fini has accused media entrepreneur Berlusconi of running the government like one of his private companies.

Author: Richard Connor (Reuters/AFP)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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