Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi brought an action against El Pais the Spanish newspaper which published paparazzi photos of guests in his Sardinian villa.
Berlusconi's lawyer Niccolo' Ghedini told on the phone that he and his client had instructed a Spanish lawyer to sue leading Spanish daily El Pais for breach of privacy.
The premier told Italian radio the pictures - which included snaps of topless women showering and a naked man about to jump into a pool - were ''innocent''.
Berlusconi does not seem to understand that it is the democratic press the one which respects his intimacy, and he the one who does not cease to question it. The publication of these photos is not an attempt to judge his morality as a citizen. Their aim is to prove that Berlusconi is trying to turn democratic politics into a mere prolongation of his personal relations and pastimes.
According to his own statements, that is precisely what he did when he prepared the electoral lists of his party and even when he appointed the members of his government. And the same can be said of the use of the facilities that the Government places at the disposal of the Prime Minister in order to carry out his institutional duties. Taking guests to private parties is not what official planes are for, regardless of whether those guests are dancers o television hostesses. And the fact that the Prime Minister passed a law in 2008 which broadened official flights to include any companion does not give him any legal coverage. Rather, it proves a blatant abuse of power.
The Italian press has denounced the scandal, but the Prime Minister's response has not only been to deny and to trivialize these facts, showing himself as a fatherly guardian of the girls, who, he claims, have special artistic or political talents. Berlusconi has also tried to discredit citizens, like his wife, who were in a position to corroborate the reports. That kind of pressure is the proof that, under Berlusconi, freedom of speech is threatened. On the other hand, the Italian Public Prosecutor has seized all the files of the photographer who took the pictures.
This scandal exposes Berlusconi, not as a citizen, but as a politician. Until now, his inappropriate remarks had been taken as a joke. But today there are new and solid reasons to warn that what the Prime Minister is risking is the future of Italy as a State governed by the rule of law. And an Italy going down the slope to which Berlusconi is dragging it is not only a matter of concern for Italians, but for all Europeans.