Rome

'Berlusconi not picked on' says Cassation Court

'We were not Speedy Gonzales'

'Berlusconi not picked on' says Cassation Court

(see related) Rome, July 10 - The president of the supreme Cassation Court on Wednesday said that three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi "was not picked on" in the decision to start appeal hearings in a fraud case July 30. "We were not Speedy Gonzales," said Giorgio Santacroce. Supporters from the media mogul's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party were livid after the Cassation's decision Tuesday to start hearings so soon in a case where the media mogul is appealing a four-year jail term and a five-year ban from office for tax-dodging at Mediaset, a broadcasting company that is part of his family's media empire. His lawyers have called the move "beyond logic," arguing that it does not give them enough time to prepare, while the Cassation insists the case risked timing out under the statute of limitations. One pro-Berlusconi daily, Il Giornale, called the court "State bandits," echoing the premier's oft-made allegation of left-wing judicial bias. "We are used to language that does not belong in a democracy," said Santacroce. "All are free to express their opinions, but within reason".

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