Rome

Undersecretary threatens taking Berlusconi appeal to Europe

Biancofiore chides Italy's 'network of political judges'

Undersecretary threatens taking Berlusconi appeal to Europe

Rome, June 20 - An undersecretary in the Italian government said Thursday she would turn to the European Court of Justice over a ruling in Italy to reject ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's appeal to a fraud charge. "Yesterday the basic principle of democracy, that is the sincere cooperation between powers, failed. I will appeal, if (Berlusconi) will give me the green light, to the Court of Justice so that there can have a fair trial," Michaela Biancofiore, undersecretary for public administration and simplification, told Italian radio. On Wednesday the Constitutional Court rejected the media mogul's plea to overturn a conviction for tax fraud on film rights at his Mediaset empire, which came with a four-year jail sentence and a five-year ban from public office. The ruling, which Berlusconi will appeal at the supreme Court of Cassation, sparked fears that members of Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party could act out to upset the fragile left-right coalition government, headed by Premier Enrico Letta of the center-left Democratic Party (PD). "He cannot sleep tight," said Biancofiore, a PdL member. She went on to criticize the Constitutional Court for its system of taking on new magistrates, some of whom are nominated by the magistrature itself, and others who are nominated by politicians. "It's unthinkable that magistrates can be nominated by politicians, especially those in high-ranking positions," she said, echoing Berlusconi's long-running accusations that parts of the Italian judiciary is politically motivated against him, in this case and many other current and past ones. "There is undoubtedly a network of judges who actually have founded a virtual political party that went beyond public morals and, not surprisingly, there are a lot of judges who took to politics and who consider their robes their strength".

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