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Berlusconi says fiancee' is beautiful inside and outside

Announces plans to wed former shop assistant, local pol

17 December, 15:05
Berlusconi says fiancee' is beautiful inside and outside (ANSA) - Rome, December 17 - Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi says his young fiancee' is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the surface.

Berlusconi announced Sunday that he intends to wed for the third time, and is engaged to Naples-born Francesca Pascale, a woman almost 50 years his junior.

The former premier, who is trying to resuscitate his political career while fending off charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, says Pascale makes him feel less lonely.

"Her name is Francesca, and she is a beautiful girl on the outside but even more beautiful inside," the 76-year-old Berlusconi said in announcing his engagement.

He said he has known Pascale, 27, for seven years as she rose through his political organization, the People of Freedom (PdL) party. In his televised announcement, Berlusconi made no mention of the fact that he is still officially married to his second wife Veronica Lario, although the pair have been legally separated since May 2010 and are set to obtain a divorce.

She left him in 2008, complaining about the then-premier's dalliances with much younger women.

These often allegedly occurred at his famous "bunga-bunga" parties, including those involving Karima 'Ruby' El Mahroug, who was fined 500 euros by a court Monday for failing to appear at Berlusconi's trial.

El Mahroug is the underage Moroccan runaway, nightclub dancer, and alleged prostitute the ex-premier is accused of having sex with.

A decision in the case - in which Berlusconi is also charged with abuse of power for phoning police to have El Mahroug released on an unrelated theft claim - has been set for early February, shortly before a national Italian election is expected.

Berlusconi has recently said he is intending to campaign for re-election in that vote.

His new fiancee' shares his political vision, the ex-premier said.

After working as a shop assistant Pascale served as a provincial councillor in Berlusconi's PdL party in Naples until she stepped down in July.