Rome

Berlusconi's PdL party weighs new protest at Milan court

Demo during Mediaset hearing being considered by members

Berlusconi's PdL party weighs new protest at Milan court

Rome, March 14 - Senior figures in Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party weighed on Thursday whether to stage a new protest at the Milan courthouse this Saturday after a demonstration last Monday sent shock-waves across the Italian political scene. On Monday, PdL parliamentarians accused the judiciary of persecuting Berlusconi and threatened to boycott the first session of parliament after a judge presiding over the 'Ruby' trial sent three doctors to check whether Berlusconi, who is in hospital, really was unfit to attend the scheduled trial hearing that day. The PdL was also irate that Berlusconi had received an order for immediate judgment in Naples due to allegations related to graft. The Naples prosecutor alleges that Berlusconi was involved in paying Senator Sergio De Gregorio three million euros to switch sides from centre-left to centre-right six years ago, a move that was instrumental to the collapse of ex-premier Romano Prodi's centre-left majority in 2007. After the Monday demonstration, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano met on Tuesday with PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano and then with the Supreme Council of Magistrates. Napolitano then issued a note calling the Monday protest "unprecedented". On Wednesday, Napolitano suffered attacks in the media and by Beppe Grillo, leader of the 5-Star Movement, for being overly mild. The PdL's new public demonstration would be made to coincide with a scheduled hearing in Berlusconi's Mediaset trial, in which Berlusconi is appealing a four-year conviction for tax fraud in the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset group.

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