Port Vila, Vanuatu (PressExposure) October 16, 2009 -- When he admitted he had spent millions of Euros on âjudgesâ, Silvio Berlusconi, the Italyâs prime minister gaffed embarrassingly, claiming he was the most persecuted man in history.
Having spent 200 million on âconsultants and lawyersâ, Berlusconi quickly amended his statement. The payments were a result of being engaged in multiple investigations. âAlthough he has yet to catch me as a Mafioso,â he joked, "Roberto Maroni, the Interior minister, is very very busy hunting down organized crime gangs".
This statement comes just days after Italyâs Constitutional Court overturned a law granting Berlusconi immunity from prosecution. Berlusconiâs holding company was ordered to pay 700 million pound in damages to a rival publishing company, owned by Berlusconiâs personal and political rival, Carlo De Beneditti. The case referred back to a takeover bid, involving bribing judges, in the early 1990s.
Berlusconi has been persistently dogged for decades, by legal sagas affecting his private media and real estate empires. The court ruling reopens his involvement in three trials, including one in which his tax lawyer was found guilty of taking a bribe to protect the prime minister. It also encompasses accusations of bribing David Mills, his British former tax accountant, in exchange for lying in court. In spite of Mills states that he is innocent, he was sentenced to four and a half years jail.
Berlusconi boldly declared he would âforge onâ, but argues that the continual persecution is leaving him no time to govern. He says he is âthe person who had been most persecuted by judges in the entire history of the word and the history of man", having made more than 2,500 court appearances since he entered politics 15 years ago.
ââThe prime minister has today returned to the fold with the rest of us mere mortals, who are subject to the respect for justice that is at the foundation of our republicââ Luigi De Magistris, a member of the European Parliament from the justice-reform minded Italy of Values party, said with satisfaction.
Having spent the summer defending himself against sex scandals, Berlusconi will now have to defend himself in many more areas, including allegations that he spent the night with a prostitute.
Even though his credibility has been severely damaged, Berlusconi still has high popularity ratings.
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