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Letta lauds Berlusconi's behavior after losing court battle

Grillo waiting for premier 'to kiss Berlusconi's behind'

21 June, 14:32
Letta lauds Berlusconi's behavior after losing court battle (ANSA) - Rome, June 21 - Italian Premier Enrico Letta said Silvio Berlusconi's public statements had been "proper and collaborative" after the ex-premier lost a battle this week at the Constitutional Court. Though, he added, "I imagine he's upset". On Wednesday Berlusconi failed to convince judges to strike down a four-year prison term and five-year ban from public office for tax fraud on film rights at this Mediaset media empire.

After the ruling, which he will appeal to the highest Court of Cassation, Berlusconi promised the outcome would not affect his support for the fragile left-right government, which includes several key members of the media mogul's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party. But he also called the ruling the latest example of a "20-year attempt to eliminate me from political life," a charge he has made repeatedly when judges have ruled against him, often alleging a leftist plot. Letta is a member of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), but he is seen as a moderate, thanks in part to his uncle Gianni Letta, Berlusconi's longtime right-hand man.

That relationship has been the subject of suspicion from many of Berlusconi's detractors, such as comedian-turned-politican Beppe Grillo, the leader of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, which opposes Letta's administration. On Friday he called Letta "the most insignificant premier since the end of World War II," and that the only thing left to see was the premier "kissing the behind of Berlusconi to survive as long as possible".

(photo: a 2006 picture of Silvio Berlusconi, left, shaking hands with Enrico Letta)