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Video by Catherine NORRIS TRENT

Latest update : 2009-05-03

A week after criticising her husband's choice of female European parliament candidates as "shamelessly trashy", Veronica Lario is set to divorce Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, according to Italian news reports.

Reuters - Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's wife wants to file for divorce, Italian media reported on Sunday, just days after she publicly criticised his party's selection of young women to run in European elections.


"I have been forced to take this step, I don't want to add anything else," La Stampa newspaper quoted Berlusconi's wife Veronica, 52, as saying, adding she had already contacted a lawyer. La Repubblica daily and ANSA news agency also carried the report.


The centre-right prime minister's office declined comment. Berlusconi's lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, told Reuters:


"This is a strictly personal matter. All matters like this one are private and painful, especially when they relate to family relationships. The prime minister at the moment has no statement to make."


Last week Veronica said his party's choice of female candidates for the European elections was a "shamelessly trashy" process.


She also accused him of going to the Naples birthday bash of an 18-year-old woman, the daughter of a political acquaintance, but not attending the coming-of-age parties of his own children.


Berlusconi, a 72-year-old media tycoon, told reporters he was sorry his wife had apparently believed "what she read in the papers", blaming a campaign against him "hyped by the leftist press".


Berlusconi's People of Freedom party has been considering a number of former actresses and television personalities as possible candidates in the June European elections, media reports say. As party leader, he has a powerful voice in who makes the list.


"What's happening today (in Italy) behind a front of bodily curves and female beauty is grave," Veronica said in an e-mail to ANSA last week.


"Some have written that it is all part of entertainment for the emperor. I agree," she added. "What is emerging from newspapers is shamelessly trashy, all in the name of power."


Supporters of Berlusconi have criticised Veronica, a former actress, for the latest public clash with her husband. Berlusconi is Italy's second-richest man with a fortune of $6.5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.


His party's website has been inundated with messages attacking her. An editorial in Il Giornale newspaper -- owned by Berlusconi's brother -- said she was harming not just her husband but the whole Italian government.


Berlusconi has three children with Veronica, whom he married in 1990, and two by his first marriage.

He has been in hot water with her several times in a very public way.

Two years ago, she criticised him in a letter to a newspaper for flirting with young starlets at a party. He later issued a public apology in the press, saying: "I beg you to forgive me".


Date created : 2009-05-03