PdL furious over Berlusconi speedy appeals trial

Ex-premier's centre-right followers slam Supreme Court

PdL furious over Berlusconi speedy appeals trial

Rome, July 9 - Lawmakers and politicians belonging to Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party (PdL) reacted furiously on Tuesday to the supreme Cassation Court's speedy scheduling of final appeals trial of the ex-premier's conviction for fraud, which is to begin July 30. The supreme court on Tuesday shocked the ex-premier's defense lawyer and sparked outrage among the centre-right leader's followers by scheduling the trial date on the same day the appeal was filed - to begin in three weeks' time. The appeal trial regards the media mogul's conviction on tax-dodging through the manipulation of film rights for Mediaset, a broadcasting company that is part of his family's media empire. Last month the Constitutional Court upheld a lower court ruling sentencing Berlusconi to four years in prison and banning him from public office for five years. The sentence will not be enforced unless it is now upheld by the supreme Cassation Court. PdL Lower House Whip Renato Brunetta said, "Justice in our country is becoming an uncontrollable monster that can not remain hidden (behind official ordinances)". PdL Senator and spokesperson Anna Maria Bernini called the scheduling "simply incredible" and accused the court of an "intent to brutally limit the opposing party and brutally violate the rights of the defense". "It is completely clear that the Italian centre-right, the PdL, will not remain still and indifferent to such a slaughter of democracy," Bernini added. An ex-minister under Berlusconi, Mara Carfagna, said she was "surprised and amazed at the speed with which the Cassation Court scheduled the hearing". "This choice enormously penalizes the defense which, as is normal, counted on having the time to carry out an investigation," Carfagna added. "If justice was always this fast, we would have resolved a large part of our problems," Carfagna said, commenting on the notoriously slow pace of Italian justice in general.

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