By By Matthew Romano, Columnist
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is once again in hot water. Recently, he has been accused of abusing his powers and paying Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug — also known by the stage name Ruby Rubacuori — for sex when she was under eighteen. The charges brought against him could land Berlusconi up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted.
Prosecutors allege that Berlusconi started to pay Mahroug for sex when she was seventeen. Although prostitution is legal in Italy, it is illegal if the prostitute is under the age of eighteen. In Italy, paying for sex with a minor is punished by a range of six months' to three years' imprisonment.
But the punishments are even more severe if one is in office: from four years' to 12 years' imprisonment. Judge Cristina Di Censo said proceedings would start April 6, after prosecutors in Milan asked for an immediate trial.
According to AOL News, the 74-year-old billionaire claims that he's been targeted in 105 probes and trials, faced 2,500 court hearings and spent more than $400 million in legal fees. Prosecutors have never been able to make their charges stick, and Berlusconi has won two elections while under investigation.
Berlusconi hasn't issued many statements about the scandal yet, but I expect something vulgar and childish. When he was involved in another prostitution scandal in November, he told his citizens not to "read newspapers anymore because they deceive you…I am a man who works hard all day long and if sometimes I used to look at some well-looking girl, it's better to be fond of pretty girls than to be gay."
Please take note: hiding your sick actions with homophobia will not help you in the long run or the short.
Even amid prostitution scandals, Berlusconi's fondness of beautiful young women is something he doesn't mind the public seeing — nor does he care whether these attractive young ladies make good politicians. In 2009, he chose young, attractive female candidates—some with little or no political experience—to represent the party in the 2009 European Parliament elections.
Berlusconi has also come under fire for reportedly spending $1.8 million in state funds to further the career of a largely unknown Bulgarian actress, Michelle Bonev. The fact that this coincided with severe cuts being made to the country's arts budget provoked a strong reaction from the public.
Berlusconi, who controls almost all of Italy's media, is perhaps the prime case of a brainwashing dictator, without being officially labeled as dictator. He has been charged with several counts of paying for prostitution, has been known to use racist language, and has been accused of being linked to the mafia.
Berlusconi loves to resort to the old philosophy of McCarthyism, as he consistently uses the term "communist" to describe any of his opponents. Italy, an overall capitalist and highly civilized country, should begin to realize whom they keep electing to office — that is, one can argue, if they actually elected him.
It is unfortunate to see Italy receiving the spotlight for an incompetent, disgraceful, and heartless individual time after time. Let us hope that in Italy's next election, they choose someone more passionate about their country.