Berlusconi wife: He is ridiculous before the world

ROME Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:33pm EDT

A copy of the book ''Tendenza Veronica'' (Veronica's Trend), a biography of Veronica Lario by journalist Maria Latella, is displayed at a book store in downtown Rome August 26, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

A copy of the book ''Tendenza Veronica'' (Veronica's Trend), a biography of Veronica Lario by journalist Maria Latella, is displayed at a book store in downtown Rome August 26, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi

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ROME (Reuters) - The wife of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who is entangled in a spate of scandals involving other women, says she wants a divorce because she can no longer stop him from "looking ridiculous before the world."

In a revised edition of a biography, Veronica Lario said she had no choice but to leave Berlusconi after newspapers said he had attended an aspiring model's 18th birthday party. He told her he was at a conference.

"It was the umpteenth lie. Better to finally respect myself, better to divorce," Lario said in the book titled "Veronica's Way," which hit the bookstores Wednesday.

"I cannot condemn myself to be his wetnurse and I cannot stop him from making himself ridiculous before the world."

Lario publicly demanded a divorce in early May from her husband of 19 years, accusing him of "frequenting minors."

Berlusconi has denied any indecent relationship with Letizia Noemi, whose 18th birthday party he attended in April and to whom he gave a 6,000 euro (8,500) necklace as a gift. He has denied that anything "spicy" happened between them.

"I think that I have no choice but to separate...He would tell me another lie and this time I could not stand it," Lario says in the book by journalist Maria Latella.

Lario, Berlusconi's second wife, met him in 1980 and bore him three children before they married a decade later. She said that for many years she had silently endured Berlusconi's behavior with other women.

"I've reached the end of the road. Ten years ago I was not ready but now I can say: I am leaving this man."

Lario spoke to Latella in the spring, before another scandal broke over allegations that Berlusconi spent the night with call-girl Patrizia D'Addario in his Rome residence in November.

Berlusconi, notorious in diplomatic circles for a string of gaffes, asked his wife's forgiveness after Lario said in a public letter to a newspaper that he had wounded her dignity.

While the "sexgate" scandal has excited the foreign press, opinion polls show many Italians consider it a private matter and it has done little to dent Berlusconi's high popularity, despite the worst economic downturn since World War II.

Lario said, however, his transgressions threatened to overshadow his political legacy. The self-made billionaire is Italy's longest-serving post-war prime minister.

"What most displeases me is that a man like Silvio could have betrayed himself," Lario said. "He has done so much, conquered so much, and today they talk about him for things which make you forget what he really was."

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