Berlusconi faces inquiry into claims he tried to rig election

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The Independent Online

Prosecutors in Rome have launched an investigation into claims that Silvio Berlusconi tried to electronically rig Italy's April general election. The claims are contained in an investigative report released today in video form with a weekly political review, Il Diario.

The election marked the first time that electronic voting machines were used in Italy, not to do the initial counting but to collate results arrived at by manual counting at the different polling stations.

The vote was extraordinarily close, and it was not until late in the morning of the day after the election that the centre-left announced that it had secured enough seats in both houses to form a government. Mr Berlusconi refused to recognise the victory, and claimed that the election had been stolen by the opposition's skulduggery.

The film claims there probably was skulduggery, but that it was all on Mr Berlusconi's side: after all, as the editor of Il Diario, Enrico Deaglio, points out, Mr Berlusconi and his allies were in control of the Interior Ministry, which polices the elections.

The thesis of the film is that, thanks to software surreptitiously installed in the central computers, spoiled ballots were transferred to Berlusconi's party, Forza Italia. But Interior Minister Beppe Pisanu, a trusted former Christian Democrat, learned of the attempted fraud and vetoed it.

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