Berlusconi announces anti-judiciary street protest March 23

Claims part of judiciary uses law to 'combat' political enemies

Berlusconi announces anti-judiciary street protest March 23

Milan, March 1 - Italian ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi announced to journalists in a Milan court on Friday that a street protest will be held on March 23 "against the judiciary's activity". "There is a part of the judiciary that uses justice to combat and eliminate political adversaries that can not be eliminated with the democratic system of elections," said the leader of the Italian centre-right. On Thursday, judicial sources said Berlusconi is being probed in Naples for allegedly paying three million euros to Senator Sergio De Gregorio to switch sides from the centre-left to the centre-right. De Gregorio defected from the left during Romano Prodi's 2006-2008 government and eventually joined Berlusconi's party. Also on Thursday, prosecutors in the northern city of Reggio Emilia said they had opened a probe into a letter Berlusconi sent to millions of Italians about an election pledge to pay back the IMU property-tax. Berlusconi was accused of attempting to buy votes with the pledge by rival politicians, who complained the letter was deceptive as it looked like an official document informing people about how to obtain a rebate, rather than an election pamphlet. Rome prosecutors are also investigating after a similar petition. Berlusconi is on trial in Milan over accusations he paid for sex with an underage Moroccan dancer, and is accused of abuse of office in the same case. Berlusconi is also appealing against a one-year conviction he was handed last year for tax fraud on film rights for his Mediaset TV group. The ex-premier has also been indicted over accusations he was involved in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretaps. In the on-going and several other previous trials, Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of a minority group of allegedly left-wing prosecutors and judges who he says are persecuting him for political reasons. Berlusconi has been tried some 30 times but has only been convicted three times - verdicts that were either timed out by the statute of limitations or overturned on appeal - prior to the Mediaset fraud verdict

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