ROME (Reuters) - Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said his children feel persecuted just as Jewish families did in Nazi Germany because he is being hounded by the country’s magistrates who want to eliminate him politically.
Berlusconi’s comments came from an advance excerpt, released on Wednesday, of an interview with him by Italian television journalist Bruno Vespa for his latest book.
Replying to a question about whether his five children had asked him to sell his media empire and leave Italy to escape his legal troubles, Berlusconi said: “My children say that they feel like Jewish families in Germany under Hitler’s regime. Truly, everyone is against us.”
Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler murdered an estimated six million Jews during World War Two.
Berlusconi, who protests his innocence in a series of court cases which he blames on left-wing magistrates, is well-known for making controversial remarks, such as calling President Barack Obama “suntanned” after he was first elected in 2008.
During a heated 2003 exchange in the European Parliament, Berlusconi compared Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat who is now president of the assembly, to a Nazi concentration camp guard.
Berlusconi, 77, and his family rank among the 200 wealthiest billionaires in the world, with an estimated fortune of 6.2 billion euros ($8.35 billion) according to Forbes magazine.
His conviction for tax fraud earlier this year poses a serious threat to his decades-long political career because it comes with a ban from public office, though polls show millions of Italians would still vote for him.
Berlusconi is also on trial on charges of having paid for sex with a minor and then abusing the powers of his office to have her released from jail after she was arrested for theft.
Berlusconi has threatened repeatedly to bring down Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s broad left-right coalition government if the Senate votes on November 27 to expel the media magnate from parliament.
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Editing by Gareth Jones