Smiles and handshakes are not on the agenda when most defendants leave court. But when the accused is Silvio Berlusconi, on trial for tax fraud, it was never going to be an ordinary hearing.
He used the opportunity to unleash his fury on a frequent target – magistrates – to the delight of his supporters. Nearly 200 of them turned out in Milan to salute their champion.
While not testifying in court, Italy’s prime minister made off the cuff comments, condemning the use of phone taps in the separate “Rubygate” under-age sex case against him.
Outside, supporters sung his campaign song and danced the “bunga bunga.”
Proceedings were adjourned until the end of the month. But not everyone was on Silvio’s side and critics clashed with Berlusconi loyalists.
The fraud case involves claims of false accounting in transactions involving Berlusconi’s Mediaset broadcasting empire. It is claimed the price of film rights was artificially manipulated to evade tax. The premier and Mediaset deny any wrongdoing.