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Friday, October 09, 2009

Silvio's gaffe

What a loser. But he's right, half of Italy wants to be him.

The Italian Prime Minister, who on Wednesday lost the immunity from prosecution that has protected him from criminal proceedings, lamented his fate yesterday, saying that he was “absolutely the most persecuted by the judiciary in all of the history of the entire world”.

Then he followed up with a slip of the tongue. Citing the 106 investigations and trials against him over the years, and the 2,500 court hearings they entailed, he mistakenly suggested, just for a second before correcting himself, that he might have bought judicial influence. “Over the years I have spent €200 million on consultants and judges ... sorry, consultants and lawyers,” he said.

The remark elicited a ripple of laughter through the press conference. The courts, which have so badly wounded him in the past few days, have shown that there are limits to his power.

A Milan judge found last week that Mr Berlusconi had been “co-responsible for corruption” after the court ruled that his company Fininvest had won a takeover bid by bribing a judge. Fininvest was ordered to pay a fine of €750 million (£695 million) to compensate a rival for lost earnings.

Mr Berlusconi maintains that the court ruling this week, which stripped his protection from prosecution, was politically motivated. “I have always been cleared,” he said in the press conference yesterday afternoon after a Cabinet meeting. “I have all these lawsuits because I am Prime Minister, and I represent the natural barrier against the rise of the Left in Italy.”

Right on every count but the first. He hasn't been persecuted, or prosecuted, nearly enough.

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