Martedì, 16 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Berlusconi row over 'justification' of bribes

English
© ANSA

Rome, February 14 - Italian ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi sparked a pre-election flap Thursday by saying
criticism of bribes such as those suspected in a major
helicopter deal by Italian defence and aerospace giant
Finmeccanica's AugustaWestland unit with India amounted to
''facile moralism''.
The Italian political and judicial establishment was
unanimous in condemning Berlusconi's apparent contention that
bribes are an inevitable part of doing business in the third
world.
''The claim that we should become accustomed to illegality
as a situation that is necessary and inevitable, as an ill that
we must live with, is unacceptable,'' said Rodolfo Sabelli,
chief of the judges and prosecutors' union ANM.
''It is not a question of moralism,'' continued Sabelli.
''There is a provision in the criminal code that also
punishes international corruption. And we have been reprimanded
by Europe and the whole world for corruption in every form,
because it is universally considered to seriously damage the
economy and investments''.
The vice-president of the judiciary's self-governing body,
the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), Michele Vietti, said:
"I think all those who have responsibilities should reinforce
citizens' respect for institutions and rules", above all at a
time when Italy is called to elect leaders expected to enforce
those rules.
The Democratic Party (Pd), which is leading the centre left
in its bid for election victory on February 24 and 25, slammed
Berlusconi's comments as ''a justification for bribes''.
PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani, Berlusconi's main rival,
called the ex-premier's views "abnormal" and said "enough of
Berlusconi, enough with kickbacks".
Former prosecutor Antonio Ingroia, leading a small leftist
coalition, said Berlusconi, who has seen a number of corruption
convictions overturned and is currently appealing a film-rights
fraud conviction, was "acquitting himself" by implication.
Ingroia, a former anti-Mafia investigator, claimed
Berlusconi was the "forefather" of a "ruling class that
continues to prosper from crime".
Berlusconi, who is also on trial for sex with an underaged
prostitute and illegally obtaining a wiretap, has long accused
allegedly left-wing prosecutors of persecuting him.
On Wednesday he said Italy's independent judiciary was "out
of control" and had to be reined in, accusing it of "clockwork"
probes aimed at the centre right.
Vietti denied this claim Thursday, saying "magistrates
cannot abstain from doing their jobs during an election
campaign".
Berlusconi's former ally and now arch-enemy Gianfranco
Fini, speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Italy's lower house,
said Berlusconi had "confessed''.
''To say that it may be necessary to pay a bribe means
being ready to corrupt in order to reach an objective. Who knows
if he was referring to himself?''
Fini added that Berlusconi was "anthropologically
different" from him on justice issues, using a term the
ex-premier employed to argue that magistrates had to be
different from normal people in order to do their jobs.
Even centre-right ally Roberto Maroni, former interior
minister and leader of the regionalist Northern League,
distanced himself from the comments.
''The system of bribes must be fought everywhere, it is a
universal challenge. This is my position of total intransigence
concerning this system,'' he said.
But the ex-premier and media magnate was defended by a
leading member of his People of Freedom (PdL) party, Daniela
Santanche'.
She said: "I think it much worse for Italians to have a
Roma (gypsy) camp than paying for commercial intermediation with
India".
Santanche' agreed with Berlusconi that such sweeteners were
a part of global business practice and happened "in other
countries too".
On Tuesday Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi was arrested in
connection to a probe into international corruption relating to
the 2010 sale of 12 helicopters to India.
New Delhi on Thursday said it had frozen payment on the
supply pending the results of investigations.
Maroni is suing two newspapers who linked the League, a
sponsor of Orsi, to the alleged corruption.

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