Fri, Jan 11, 2013 - Page 7 News List

Berlusconi rebuked for comments on TV against magistrates

The Guardian, ROME

Senior judges in Milan issued a stern rebuke to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday after he tried to blame his huge alimony payments on the biased views of “feminist, communist” magistrates.

In the latest skirmish between the billionaire media magnate and the judiciary, the heads of the Milan tribunal and court of appeal issued a curt statement saying they “firmly rejected any insinuation of partiality” on the part of the magistrates who drew up the three-time prime minister’s divorce settlement, which he claims amounts to 200,000 euros (US$261,200) a day.

Livia Pomodoro and Giovanni Canzio added that their colleagues were “diligent professionals” and called on politicians to avoid making “any expression of derision” that could cause the public to think otherwise.

The retort followed the latest in a succession of lengthy television interviews with Berlusconi, 76, which have become a fixture of Italian politics in the run-up to next month’s elections.

Questioned on the La7 private TV network about his divorce from his second wife, former actor Veronica Lario, Berlusconi said the settlement amounted to 36 million euros a year, with 72 million euros in arrears. He also said it meant paying Lario 200,000 euros a day, although it was unclear how he had calculated that figure.

“These are three women judges, feminists and communists, OK? These are the Milan judges who have persecuted me since 1994,” he said.

The claim that he is the victim of a vindictive, leftwing judiciary has been a key part of Berlusconi’s political persona ever since he first came to power in the mid-1990s.

When he was found guilty of tax fraud by a Milan court last year and sentenced to four years in prison, he retorted that the decision was “a political sentence, the way so many other trials invented against me have been political.” He is appealing against the verdict.

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