Berlusconi vows to fight

Italian PM calls corruption charges laughable


But commentators warned that tension stemming from the Constitutional Court ruling on Wednesday could destabilise the political landscape and spill over into the economy.

“The government will forge ahead calmly, tranquilly and with even more grit than before because this will be absolutely indispensable for freedom and democracy in this country,” Berlusconi said in a morning radio interview.

In a major blow for the 73-year-old Berlusconi, the court ruled that a law granting him immunity from prosecution while he is in office violates the constitution. The verdict will reopen two trials against him that were suspended.

Berlusconi also has been hit by a spate of scandals surrounding his private life, including allegations a businessman paid women to sleep with him. His wife announced in May she wanted a divorce because of his womanising.

Berlusconi has responded by attacking Italy’s president, the media, magistrates and the constitutional court as leftists scheming against him. “The two trials against me are false, laughable, absurd, and I will show this to Italians by going on television and I will defend myself in the courtroom and make my accusers look ridiculous and show everyone what stuff they are made of and what stuff I am made of,” he said.

The immunity law, one of Berlusconi’s first acts after winning last year’s election, halted all the cases against him, including one in which he is accused of bribing a British lawyer. Two other cases, one accusing him of tax fraud and false accounting and another alleging he tried to corrupt opposition senators, have also been frozen.

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