Written by Gareth Carpenter
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Thursday, 22 January 2004

image for Berlusconi set to join dictators club
Berlusconi practicing his Benito stance

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi looks set to join global politicians' most prestigious body - the Deposed Dictators' Society.

Lawyers for Mr Berlusconi confirmed that the re-opening of a trial in which he is charged with bribery and corruption had persuaded the Italian leader to press ahead with his membership application.

"The result of this case could prove very decisive for Signor Berlusconi," said his legal counsel Marcello Backhandelli. "All being well, he could be following in the footsteps of our proud former leader Benito Mussolini."

The Deposed Dictators' Society was formed in Italy by Julius Caesar in 32 BC and boasts a list of illustrious names. Charles I of England, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, Adolf Hitler of Germany and Pol Pot of Cambodia have all been accepted by the organisation. Latest recent additions have been Nicolae Ceausescu, Slobodan Milosevic and Saddam Hussein.

Rules for membership are simple: a leader has to have been ousted from power against his will after committing serious crimes against his people.

A vox pop of Italian citizens showed that many felt Mr Berlusconi should be allowed to join the society but surprisingly not on the back of the corruption charges.

"You should hear his singing," commented one passer-by.

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