Italian judges chide 'disrespect' after Berlusconi sentence

Ex-premier, supporters accuse judiciary of political bias

Italian judges chide 'disrespect' after Berlusconi sentence

Rome, June 26 - The Italian judiciary's self-governing body on Wednesday spoke out against accusations of politically motivated judges following the conviction of Silvio Berlusconi this week for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his office as then premier in an attempt to cover it up. "The legitimate right to criticize court rulings must never trespass the boundaries of respect for the judiciary," said the CSM in a statement. Berlusconi and his supporters, some of whom took to the streets in protest, have repeated charges of political persecution following a closely watched verdict Monday when judges in Milan sentenced the three-time premier to seven years in prison and banned him for life from holding public office, rulings he will appeal. Italian President Giorgio Napolitano issued an appeal for calm Tuesday. Napolitano, who is also the titular head of the CSM, called for greater respect of all branches of the State. "We must always respect and safeguard public institutions, which are the bedrock of the life and development of a democratic State and civil society worthy of the name," said Napolitano.

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