Press TV - October 10, 2009 13:36:26 GMT
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he is the world's most prosecuted man.
In yet another trademark gaffe, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says he has paid millions of euros to consultants and judges during his court appearances.
The Italian magnate, who is famous for his numerous blunders, was forced to quickly correct himself, saying in a press conference that he had spent 200 million euros on "consultants and lawyers."
Berlusconi also called himself the most prosecuted man in the world with making over 2,500 court appearances and spending millions on his defense.
"I am absolutely the person who has been most persecuted by judges of all times, in the entire history of the world," he said Friday after judges lifted his immunity from prosecution.
Last week, a Milan court ordered his media empire Fininvest to pay a record fine of 750 million euros after ruling that it had obtained a favorable legal decision through bribery.
The decision came after Italy's Constitutional Court on Wednesday overturned a law which was shielding Berlusconi from prosecution while in office.
The verdict paved the way for two corruption trials to resume against Berlusconi.
So far, the Italian premier has faced charges including corruption, tax fraud, false accounting and illegally financing political parties. Although some initial judgments have gone against him, he has never been definitively convicted.
In the latest cases, he is accused of paying his former British tax lawyer, David Mills, 600,000 dollars to give false evidence in two trials in the 1990s. Mills was convicted in February of accepting the payment.
Another pending case against Berlusconi involves allegations that his Mediaset television empire overcharged for broadcasting rights.
The 73-year-old billionaire media tycoon turned politician has seen his popularity ratings drop in the past few weeks as he is also facing a string of sex scandals.
When asked about calls by critics for his resignation as his personal and legal problems damage the country's image in the world, he said, "the reality is completely the opposite."
"In my opinion, and not only mine, I am the best prime minister we can find today," asserted Berlusconi.