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Napolitano chides Berlusconi for 'imaginary coups'

President tells Forza Italia boss that 'extremes do not help'

16 December, 18:30
Napolitano chides Berlusconi for 'imaginary coups' (ANSA) - Rome, December 16 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Monday chided former premier Silvio Berlusconi for invoking "imaginary coups" in recent comments.

Napolitano has come under consistent pressure from Berlusconi and his supporters before the ex-premier was ejected earlier this month from the Senate following a definitive tax fraud conviction.

Berlusconi's supporters have insisted Napolitano should grant the founder of the Forza Italia (FI) political party a pardon, although Berlusconi has not ever directly requested one.

Berlusconi says that his ejection from the Senate, which followed a vote by senators, amounted to a coup d'état.

No one is "entitled to invoke imaginary coups," said Napolitano.

He also warned that Berlusconi's "extreme" comments have not helped a stable democracy in Italy.

"The extreme language does not help anyone and can only lead to failures in the democratic life," said Napolitano.

Berlusconi says the tax-fraud conviction, his first definitive sentence in two decades of legal battles, is part of a campaign of persecution by left-wing elements in the judiciary who allegedly want to sweep him from the country's political arena.

The four-year term for fraud at Berlusconi's Mediaset company has been commuted because of an amnesty to one year, which the 77-year-old has requested to serve by doing community service rather than under house arrest.

The media magnate is too old to actually go to jail under Italian law.

"It's a coup that starts from a criminal political sentence to destroy the leader of the centre right and clear the way for the left," Berlusconi has said.

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