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Berlusconi calls Mafia rumor ‘lies’

PALERMO, Sicily — Media mogul Silvio Berlusconi rejected charges Sunday that the Mafia was backing his bid to govern Italy, and pledged to wage war on organized crime if he wins next weekend’s watershed elections.

His angry denial of what he called “base and shameful lies” brought a standing ovation from supporters of his Forza Italia party at a rally in Palermo.

“We say it loud and we say it clear — every vote for Forza Italia in Sicily, in Calabria, in Campania and everywhere else in Italy will be a vote against the Mafia,” Berlusconi said.

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