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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 17:26 GMT
Berlusconi keeps Italy guessing
Italian papers scrutinised the prime minister's new look (picture: La Repubblica)

Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi held his first news conference of the year on Friday - but left before journalists could ask about his alleged facelift.

On Thursday the 67-year-old appeared in public after a month's absence, coyly saying that he had "had a service".

Italian newspapers have splashed pictures of the prime minister across their front pages - most of them convinced that he had a nip and tuck.

"Half way between Boris Karloff and a baby," wrote the Il Foglio daily.

"How the wrinkles have disappeared," wrote an impressed Corriere della Sera.

"How his face which up to a month ago appeared rounder, has lost weight."

Exercise

The newspaper suggested the new image was intended to mark the 10th anniversary of Mr Berlusconi's Forza Italia party.

He is fine, he looks like my son
Northern League leader Umberto Bossi
"The cavalier has given himself a present of a face that dominated election rallies 10 years ago," it added.

Mr Berlusconi, who will be attending an anniversary rally on Saturday, said on Thursday he had taken exercise and lost weight during his month out of the public eye.

His last press conference, before Friday's, was on 20 December.

Media rumours say he was operated on in Switzerland on 28 December by a Californian plastic surgeon.

One of Mr Berlusconi's doctors was quoted by one paper as saying that he had had surgery around the eyes - but later denied knowing anything about it.

The left-leaning L'Espresso said this week that he had had extensive surgery on his face and neck.

The prime minister's office has declined to comment on the reports.

Coalition partner Umberto Bossi said on Thursday: "He is fine, he looks like my son."


SEE ALSO:
Silvio Berlusconi 'has eye job'
15 Jan 04  |  Europe



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