Magistrates hit back at Berlusconi's call for protests

'Dangerous words at a time like this' says union

Magistrates hit back at Berlusconi's call for protests

Rome, March 1 - The magistrates union in Italy fired back at former premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday, calling his promise for street demonstrations "dangerous" after prosecutors presented accusations that he paid bribes to destabilize a former government. "Calling people to the streets in a moment such as this is very dangerous," a statement from the National Magistrates' Association said. "It calls into question the credibility of the institution, which weakens the State itself and all other institutions". Earlier Friday Berlusconi called for demonstrations on March 23 "against magistrates" he accused of forcing Senator Sergio De Gregorio to lie about receiving three million euros from him to switch from centre left to centre right. Berlusconi, who recently called Italian magistrates "worse than the mafia," said they were trying to "eliminate" him after his second-place election run. Prosecutors said Thursday De Gregorio came forward in December and admitted to the bribe from Berlusconi to destabilize Romano Prodi's 2006-2008 government. The centre right has accused the prosecutors of "clockwork justice" in announcing the probe four days after Berlusconi came a close second to centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani in the general election, which produced no clear majority. The polarized result has primed the parliament for political gridlock, as well as raised questions about stability in the recession-stricken country at large.

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