UK & World News
Silvio Berlusconi Engaged To Francesca Pascale
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced he is engaged to a woman almost 50 years younger than him - an age gap he admitted was "a little excessive".
Speaking on one of his own TV channels, the tycoon, 76, said he was due to marry his 27-year-old girlfriend Francesca Pascale.
He told an interviewer: "Yes, I'm engaged, to a Neapolitan (a person from Naples). It's official. She is so much younger that there is an age difference of 49 years between me and her - so a little excessive.
He added: "She is 27 years old, she is called Francesca and she is a beautiful girl, beautiful from the outside, but even more beautiful inside.
"She brings continuous joy. She's very close to me, she loves me very much and I love her back."
Mr Berlusconi has been married and divorced twice and has five children.
In October, he was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud connected to his television channels.
At a separate trial that month, he denied hosting raunchy parties, having sex with an underage girl and abusing his powers by pressuring police.
Mr Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with Moroccan exotic dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, when she was 17.
Referring to the 'Bunga Bunga' parties at his villa near Milan, he said: "I can exclude with absolute certainty that there were ever scenes of a sexual nature."
The 'Bunga Bunga' - described by many of his female guests as a type of lap dance he enjoyed - was "only a joke I used to tell which then got picked up by the press", he told the court's three female judges.
In the latest TV interview, he also spoke about his possible plans to become Italy's PM once again.
Mr Berlusconi repeated he would only withdraw as a candidate if current leader Mario Monti agreed to run as head of an alliance of moderates.
Mr Monti's government of non-political technocrats had been supported by Mr Berlusconi's People of Freedom party (PDL).
But the PDL withdrew its support about 10 days ago, prompting Mr Monti to announce his resignation and bring forward elections to a likely date in February.
However, shortly after his party withdrew support, Mr Berlusconi announced he would pull out as an election candidate if Mr Monti were to run, in an apparent U-turn.