Rome

Berlusconi vows govt support after losing sex trial

President summons ex-premier amid claims of prejudiced judges

Berlusconi vows govt support after losing sex trial

Rome, June 26 - The Italian judiciary's self-governing body spoke out Wednesday 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 on 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. One day later, the president invited Berlusconi to a private meeting as the accusations of judicial bias continued to fly from the ex-premier and his supporters. According to a statement from the president's office, the two shared a robust exchange of opinions on the political situation at hand. Many have worried that the fragile stability of the unprecedented left-right government was at risk over the Berlusconi's legal woes. But after Wednesday's meeting with Napolitano, Berlusconi "confirmed his and his party's support for the government and the work it must carry out," according to sources in the president's office.

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