<i>Berlusconi amid scandal: 'I love women'</i>
Premier Silvio Berlusconi issued an unapologetic defense of his lifestyle Friday amid the latest scandal involving his personal life, admitting that he intervened to secure the release from police custody of a 17-year-old Moroccan girl who had previously been at his villa.
Berlusconi, 74, denied that he had done anything inappropriate in securing the release of the Moroccan runaway nicknamed Ruby, and scoffed at press reports that portrayed their interaction as improper.
The disclosure comes at a difficult time for Berlusconi, who is grappling with street protests in Naples over his failure to stop a trash crisis there, a weakened government coalition and his declining popularity in the polls.
Saying "I love life, I love women," the Italian leader insisted he was proud of his lifestyle, which has come under scrutiny for his purported dalliances with young women and an encounter with a prostitute unveiled last year.