I'm the most popular leader in the EU, embattled Berlusconi says

Other News Materials 4 February 2011 15:59 (UTC +04:00)

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi claimed he was the most popular national leader in the European Union on Friday, despite the latest string of sex scandals that have tarnished his image, DPA reported.

Berlusconi is currently being investigated for involvement in underage prostitution and abuse of power, with leaked transcripts of police wire-taps revealing his taste for extravagant parties at home in the presence of numerous young women.

"The latest polls say I'm at 51 per cent, so I am the European leader with the highest support among his citizens," the Italian premier said as he arrived at a European Union summit in Brussels.

He said that was proof that voters did not believe in the accusations levelled against him by magistrates that he maintains are politically motivated.

"Unfortunately, we live in an judicial republic which has been hijacked by prosecutors," Berlusconi charged, directing his anger right up to the Constitutional Court, which he maintained was stuffed with "judges hailing from the left."

"There is nobody in the world who has been attacked as much as I have by certain magistrates," Berlusconi complained, claiming that 14 times accusations against him were struck out at the pre-trial stage, and 10 more times he was declared innocent.

However, several trials collapsed because of judicial reforms Berlusconi introduced while in office, including tighter statute-of-limitations deadlines and lowered penalties for false accounting, a charge repeatedly levelled against him.