Tarnished Armor

The man who rode to the country's rescue now finds himself under attack. Can he remain in the saddle?

The ingredients of a full-blown political crisis were gathering last week over Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's fragile coalition government. But none was more threatening than the challenge directed at Berlusconi personally, the tycoon who had been swept into power earlier this year on a tide of anticorruption sentiment. Even as he was host to a U.N. conference in Naples on combatting organized crime, the Prime Minister, once dubbed Il Cavaliere, or the knight, found himself among the knaves as he was formally placed under investigation by magistrates engaged in a bribery probe of Fininvest, his business empire.

"I have never corrupted...

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