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 Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 13:06 GMT
Benigni's TV attack on Berlusconi
Roberto Benigni
Roberto Benigni attacked Berlusconi on TV
Oscar-winning actor and director Roberto Benigni has appeared on Italian TV to mount a satirical attack on the cpountry's conservative ruling elite.

His television show included jibes at Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Benigni said the Italian leader was like Jesus Christ because he represented a holy trinity: prime minister, chairman of football team AC Milan, and head of his Fininvest holding company.

The show was on Italy's state-run broadcaster RAI.

Benigni, who won 1999's best foreign film Oscar of Life Is Beautifiul, has long been an outspoken critic of Mr Berlusconi.

He has been joined in protests by a number of other noted Italian liberals and left-wingers, including film director Nanni Moretti.

Silvio Berlusconi
The autocratic rule of Silvio Berlusconi has come under fire
He took part in a massive anti-government demonstration in Rome in September, with over 400,000 people taking part.

Mr Berlusconi, who has led Italy since 2001, has been accused of political favouritism and opponents claim he has used politcal power to further his business interest.

He had earlier been the country's prime minister in 1994, but was forced to give up the position after only 224 days.

Benigni has been feted in his home country since winning the Oscar in 1999 for Life Is Beautiful.

The film caused controversy for its portrayal of a death camp prisoner trying to protect his son from the awful truth of the Holocaust.

See also:

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