A visibly angry Silvio Berlusconi has fired a searing attack at the judiciary and press just days before the Italian election.
The Prime Minister said he was the victim of a witchhunt, and claimed the newspapers were siding with the opposition centre-left.
“There are state employees whose salaries come from the citizens and who plot, plot, and plot against the Prime Minister,” he fumed.
“It is an infamy that magistrates use these means to persuade citizens to vote for someone else during an election campaign.”
Prosecutors have demanded that Berlusconi stand trial on charges of bribing a British lawyer in return for favourable testimony, something he denies.
Centre-left candidate Romano Prodi criticised Berlusconi’s promise to abolish a local property tax, asking how such a measure could be financed by the state.
Pierro Fassino leads one of the larger left-wing groups allied to Prodi.
He argues Berlusconi has overstepped the mark. “He can sense defeat, he doesn’t want to accept it, and he’s doing everything he can to stop it. The fact he doesn’t want to be beaten is human, that he’s still trying to win a few votes is legitimate, but that he does that in riding roughshod over every rule, all good taste, shouting and often incoherent, that’s not a good thing,” he said.
The mud-slinging and name-calling comes to an end tomorrow night, with Italiansgiven a day of reflection on Saturday before voting on Sunday and Monday.