ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has no intention of resigning even if he were convicted in one of the trials against him, he said in an interview for a book to be published next week.
The conservative leader faces two trials next month following a decision by Italy’s top court to lift his immunity from prosecution and allow legal proceedings against him to resume.
One, due to start on November 16, sees him accused of tax fraud and false accounting in the management of his media companies.
It involves the acquisition of TV rights by Mediaset which, according to prosecutors, bought the rights at an inflated price from two offshore companies controlled by the prime minister.
In a separate trial, whose next hearing is slated for November 27, Berlusconi is charged with paying a $600,000 bribe to British lawyer David Mills to withhold incriminating details of his business dealings.
“I still have faith in the existence of serious magistrates who hand down serious verdicts, based on facts,” Berlusconi said, according to excerpts of the book released on Saturday.
“If there were a conviction in trials like these, we would be facing such a big subversion of the truth that I would feel even more duty bound to stay in my post to defend democracy and the rule of law,” he said.
Berlusconi has been in combative mode since Italy’s Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that his protection from prosecution while he holds office violated the constitution.
That ruling overturned a law passed by his government which critics had denounced as tailor-made to protect him from his legal woes.
Ever since then, he has repeatedly attacked the judicial system as overrun by “communist” magistrates out to destroy him.
He had a particularly angry outburst this week after a Milan court upheld a conviction against Mills for accepting a bribe from him in 1997.
Mills is appealing against the verdict, and Berlusconi said in the interview he was certain the conviction would be thrown out by Italy’s highest appeals court.
The book containing the full interview, “Donne di Cuori” (Queens of Heart), was written by one of Italy’s best-known television journalists, Bruno Vespa, and will be published on November 6.
Editing by Tim Pearce