Alexa

Italy's Berlusconi demands apology from his wife

 FILE --  In this Friday, May 30, 2008 file photo, Italain Premier Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a press conference at the end of a meeting on the...
 In this Sept. 29, 2008 photo Veronica Lario, right, and her daughter Barbara are seen at a meeting in Milan, Italy. A peeved Premier Silvio Berluscon...

ITALY BERLUSCONI WIFE

FILE -- In this Friday, May 30, 2008 file photo, Italain Premier Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a press conference at the end of a meeting on the...

ITALY BERLUSCONI WIFE

In this Sept. 29, 2008 photo Veronica Lario, right, and her daughter Barbara are seen at a meeting in Milan, Italy. A peeved Premier Silvio Berluscon...

A peeved Premier Silvio Berlusconi has demanded a public apology from his wife, who announced she was seeking a divorce from the billionaire media magnate because she was fed up with his roving eye for younger women.

Going on the counterattack, the 72-year-old, perma-tanned conservative premier, who in recent years has had hair transplants and plastic surgery around the eyes, appeared more intent on saving his wounded pride than his foundering marriage.

"Veronica will have to publicly apologize to me. And I don't know if that will be enough," the Corriere della Sera daily on Monday quoted Berlusconi as saying in a long chat with its editor-in-chief.

Berlusconi also implied that he was the victim of a plot hatched by his enemies.

"I am indignant," Berlusconi said. "Veronica has fallen into a trap. And I know who she is being advised by. Or rather, being incited by."

He added darkly: "The truth will come out, don't worry."

Dario Franceschini, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party hit back, saying the prime minister's insinuation was "pathetic". He said: "We have acted like responsible people in this matter, leaving a personal matter out of politics."

Veronica Lario, a 52-year-old former actress, confirmed Sunday she wants a divorce from her husband just a week after publicly venting her rage over Berlusconi's frequent flirtations.

When Corriere asked Berlusconi if he was thinking of patching up the couple's nearly 30-year-long relationship, the premier replied: "I don't believe so. I don't know if I want to this time."

The couple, who met in a backstage dressing room in 1980 after the love-struck Berlusconi saw Lario perform in a Milan theater, have been married since 1990 and have three grown children.

But the two have lived largely separate lives for many years — easy to do when a family owns several villas, apartments and vacation getaway spots in Milan, Sardinia and abroad.

Custody won't be an issue since their children are legally adults. But questions over how to carve up Berlusconi's business empire for his five adult children in any divorce deal consumed the Italian media Monday.

No longer Italy's richest man as he had been for years, Berlusconi and his family now rank No. 2 in the country, after sweets-maker Michele Ferrero. He's 70th in Forbes' world rankings, with $6.5 billion (almost euro5 billion.)

Besides Italy's three biggest private TV networks, Berlusconi's businesses range from real estate companies to movie and advertising production firms to the AC Milan major league soccer club, with most of his family's wealth grouped under the Fininvest holding company.

The premier holds some 63 percent of Fininvest, with the rest divvied up among family members.