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Anti-Berlusconi protests turn violent

posted 6 Feb 2011, 13:04 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 6 Feb 2011, 18:13 ]

A peaceful demonstration outside Silvio Berlusconi's Milan villa ends in clashes between protesters and riot police.

A weekend of protests against Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi came to an end with violent scuffles between demonstrators and police outside the premier's Milan villa on Sunday (February 6).

Demonstrators had spent the day protesting outside Berlusconi's private residence near Milan where prosecutors say the prime minister held parties featuring sex games with young women paid to attend.

What began as a peaceful demonstration featuring bands and slogans demanding Berlusconi's resignation, turned violent in the early evening when a group of marchers tried to break through police barriers and threw bottles at the police, who responded with baton charges.

Italian television reported that six people had suffered slight injuries.

In other protests earlier on Sunday, hackers briefly crashed the Italian government's official website.

Police confirmed that the website had been attacked at around 1400 GMT, as had been promised in a message posted on the Internet by a group called Anonymous Italy.

The website was only briefly inaccessible.

The group's statement attacked the government's activities regarding Internet freedom, justice, the media, organised crime and, in an apparent reference to the sex scandal that has engulfed Berlusconi, under-aged prostitution.

Berlusconi is accused by Milan prosecutors of having sex with a nightclub dancer known as "Ruby" when she was 17, below the minimum legal age of 18 for prostitution in Italy.

He denies any wrongdoing.

Anonymous, which often acts in support of Julian Assange's Wikileaks organisation, has launched Internet initiatives in recent months against the policies of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Assange said in an Italian television interview on Sunday that in the coming weeks Wikileaks would publish a large number of new, sensitive documents regarding Italy's government.