Mercoledì, 17 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Napolitano 'regrets' PdL court demo for Berlusconi

English
© ANSA

Rome, March 12 - Italian President Giorgio
Napolitano on Tuesday told members of ex-premier Silvio
Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party that he "regretted"
their "unprecedented" demonstration Monday inside Milan's court
house against an alleged intensification of judicial persecution
of their leader.
The PdL launched the demo after judges in the ex-premier's
trial for allegedly paying for sex with a minor sent doctors to
verify if an eye problem for which the premier has been
hospitalised justified his not attending the final stage of the
closely watched case.
After talking to PdL Secretary Angelino Alfano, who on
Monday accused prosecutors of "trying to eliminate" his boss,
Napolitano issued a statement voicing his "keen regret for the
rekindling of tensions between politics and justice...regret, in
particular, for what happened yesterday and ended up with a
political demonstration without precedent inside Milan's Palace
of Justice".
The president appealed for "a common and general sense of
responsibility" to preserve both "freedom of expression and the
independence of the judiciary".
Napolitano "hopes for an immediate change in the climate
that has been created", the statement said.
It added that the PdL leaders had recognised that
Napolitano, who is titular head of the judiciary's
self-governing body, the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM),
could not take "inappropriate" action undermining the
judiciary's freedom.
Napolitano called a meeting of the CSM executive council for
18:00 local time Tuesday.
After the meeting with Napolitano, Alfano vowed that the PdL
would continue to defend their leader from attempts to
"eliminate" him.
In a joint statement, he and PdL whips Fabrizio Cicchitto
and Maurizio Gasparri said "Napolitano listened with great
attention to our concerns for the risks that Italian democracy
is running".
Alfano also praised Napolitano's convening the CSM, telling
ANSA on the phone that "it seems an excellent initiative".
In the so-called trial, the three-time premier is accused of
paying Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahrough aka Ruby
Heartstealer for sex before she turned 18, the legal age for
being a prostitute.
Both Ruby and Berlusconi say they never had sex.
The ex-premier, who has complained during some 30 trials
that allegedly leftwing prosecutors and judges are persecuting
him, also stands accused of abusing his position as premier to
get Ruby released from a police station to avoid a diplomatic
incident with Egypt, because he believed she was the niece of
then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
If convicted on both counts, Berlusconi faces a jail term of
15 years.
The centre-right leader and media tycoon is also appealing
against a four-year jail term he received last year for fraud in
the purchase of TV rights for films.
He is currently facing indictment for allegedly paying a
centre-left Senator to switch sides in 2006, and is expected to
appeal a recent one-year sentence for involvement in the
publication of an illegally obtained wiretap which embarrassed a
centre-left leader in 2005.
Judges on Tuesday granted Berlusconi's plea that his
medical condition - the eye infection and high blood pressure
stemming from treatment - constituted a "legitimate impediment"
to his showing up for the trial.
A verdict was expected March 18, upping pressure on the
ex-premier in the aftermath of Italy's inconclusive general
election, but that date may now be pushed back, court sources
said.
Berlusconi came narrowly second to the centre left in last
month's election but has been blackballed by both centre-left
leader Pier Luigi Bersani, who faces the tough task of forming a
government, and anti-establishment comedian and activist Beppe
Grillo, who rode a huge shock protest vote to become the biggest
single party in the House and hold the balance of power in the
Senate.
No party has a majority in the upper house and pundits have
widely predicted Democratic Party (PD) leader Bersani's efforts
to woo Grillo supporters to attain a confidence vote will fail.
One scenario sees another election this summer and the
possible replacement of Bersani as PD leader by the much
younger, media-savvy and more centrist mayor of Florence, Matteo
Renzi, who polls say has a wider appeal.

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