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Last Updated: Friday, 8 August, 2003, 16:17 GMT 17:17 UK
Berlusconi warns 'subversive' judges
Silvio Berlusconi
Berlusconi has frequently accused judges of bias
A spokesman for Silvio Berlusconi has threatened to retaliate against judges whom he accuses of persecuting Italian prime minister.

The spokesman, Sandro Bondi, proposed setting up an inquiry commission to investigate whether parts of the judiciary were operating with what he described as subversive ends.

On Wednesday, a court in Milan said the trial earlier this year of a close associate of Mr Berlusconi, Cesare Previti, brought to light the largest corruption case in Italy's post-war history.

There are avalanches and truck-loads of elements coming from the history of the last 10 years which demonstrate that there is judicial persecution against the prime minister
Sandro Bondi
Berlusconi spokesman
Mr Previti, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison, says he was a victim of left-leaning magistrates.

Mr Berlusconi, who was on trial earlier this year accused of bribing judges, has also frequently described the judiciary as being biased against him.

The ruling coalition pushed a law through parliament in June granting the prime minister and other top officials immunity and halting the trial.

Disbelief

Mr Bondi said the new commission would be proposed to parliament in September.

"There are avalanches and truckloads of elements coming from the history of the last 10 years and these last few days which demonstrate, beyond any doubt, that there is judicial persecution against the prime minister," he said.

Members of the judiciary appeared shocked by Mr Bondi's statement.

"I cannot believe this proposal," Italian radio quoted Virginio Rognoni, deputy chairman of the Higher Council of the Judiciary, as saying.

There were also doubts from within the ruling coalition itself.

Christian Democrat MP Luca Volonte said his party would not support the proposal if it affected current trials.

Mr Bondi also attacked elements of the press which he said were in cahoots with the judges, including the left-of-centre daily La Repubblica.


SEE ALSO:
Italy immunity law provokes fury
25 Jun 03  |  Europe
Berlusconi's awkward ally
20 May 03  |  Europe
Bossi rocks Italian Government
05 Apr 03  |  Europe
Italian PM attacks judiciary
30 Jan 03  |  Europe


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