Protesters stage rally outside Berlusconi`s villa

The protests were organised by the "Purple People", an anti-Berlusconi group.

Last Updated: Feb 07, 2011, 10:51 AM IST

Rome: Clashes broke out between police and hundreds of demonstrators staging fresh protests on Sunday against Italy`s scandal-plagued Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi outside his villa, local media reported.

"Resign, resign!" the protesters shouted at the gates of Berlusconi`s private villa in the Milan suburb of Arcore, where he was spending the weekend.

Roughly a hundred protesters tried to break a security cordon erected several hundred metres from Berlusconi`s residence, sparking clashes with riot police whom they pelted with bottles and other objects.

A banner demanded "Prostitutes out of the state”, in an apparent reference to allegations that Berlusconi had paid for sex with prostitutes at wild parties in the mansion, allegations the prime minister has denied.

Another clash took place in front of Arcore`s train station with several officers, demonstrators and a journalist injured, police said. Police arrested two protesters.

The protests were organised by the "Purple People", an anti-Berlusconi group on the Internet which previously held a "No Berlusconi Day" in 2009.

Judges are set to request this week that Berlusconi stand trial, while the 74-year-old has remained defiant, vowing to stay in office.

The inquiry into Berlusconi`s alleged liaisons with prostitutes was first reported last month and has dominated Italian newspapers since then.

On Saturday, thousands of people gathered in Milan in another anti-Berlusconi demonstration that included prominent writers Umberto Eco and Roberto Saviano.

In a separate development, a group of online activists known as "Anonymous" launched attacks on Sunday against the Italian government`s website, citing political grievances, ANSA news agency reported.

"Anonymous" announced its assaults earlier in the day, saying they were launched because "the political and economic situation in Italy has become unstable”.

In particular, the group attacked the judiciary system and government, which it said was "implicated in prostitution, including minors”, an apparent reference to the sex scandal dogging Berlusconi.

The website (www.governo.it) did not immediately appear to be blocked.

Bureau Report