One of the most riveting dramas in international politics looks as if it might finally be nearing its climax. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has become ever more tightly enmeshed in a s-x scandal from which it's hard to see any escape.

Last night Berlusconi came out fighting, arguing again that the investigation was illegal and politically motivated, and promising new laws "to guarantee that a magistrate will not be able to try to illegitimately destroy someone who has been elected by the citizens."