Separatists Break into Berlusconi's Villa

Politics | March 19, 2005, Saturday // 00:00

About 100 Sardinian separatists have broken into Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's luxury villa to protest against symbols of the Italian state on the Mediterranean island.

The activists reached the villa's swimming pool on Saturday before being thrown out by police, said Gavino Sale, head of the Indipendentzia Repubrica Sardigna (IRS), movement.

Some Sardinians want independence from Italy which they accuse of smothering their culture and their widely spoken local language, Sardo.

Berlusconi, Italy's richest man, has also come under fire from environmentalists for building a replica Greek amphitheatre at Villa Certosa, his mansion on the largely protected Sardinian coast.

The government says the additions to Berlusconi's villa, which has hosted leaders including British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Russia's Vladimir Putin, were authorised because it is used for official functions.

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