European Parliament chief warns against Berlusconi comeback

The president of the European Parliament, once invited to play the role of a Nazi camp guard by Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, has warned Italians not to vote for the scandal-dogged billionaire business tycoon.

"Silvio Berlusconi has already sent Italy into a tailspin with irresponsible government action and personal capers," Germany's Martin Schulz told Thursday's mass circulation Bild newspaper.

The "confidence" which Italy has gained through outgoing Premier Mario Monti should not be gambled away, he added according to comments released by the newspaper.

"I have great confidence that the Italian voters will make the right choice for their country," he added.

Asked about a possible comeback by three-times prime minister Berlusconi, 76, in general elections beginning Sunday, German politicians have said this week the decision lies purely with Italians.

Chancellor Angela Merkel told the Straubinger Tagblatt regional daily on Wednesday that Monti's reforms had "brought a great deal of confidence worldwide back to the country."

However, she insisted that it was "for the Italians to elect their government" and she did not want to get involved in "recommendations or speculation."

In 2003, Berlusconi provoked an uproar in the European Parliament when he invited a heckling Schulz to appear in a film as a Nazi camp guard.

In Italy, "a producer is now shooting a film about the Nazi concentration camps", Berlusconi shouted back at Schulz.

"I propose you to play the role of Kapo," he said, referring to a guard drawn from camp detainees chosen by the Nazi SS.