Berlusconi in dock over TV channel stalking anti-bribes judge

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Rome (Italy), Oct.19 (ANI): A television channel owned by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has been accused of harassing a magistrate who had earlier this month ruled against his business empire in a bribery case.

The Independent reports that within days of magistrate Raimondo Mesiano ordering Berlusconi's Fininvest Group, his financial holding company, to pay €750 million in compensation to a rival company, Berlusconi's flagship Canale 5 channel began secretly filming the magistrate in the streets of Milan as he went about his business.

The results were beamed to millions on the Mattino 5 programme, accompanied by a voiceover that ridiculed Mesiano for his "extravagant" and "eccentric behaviour", his "impatience", and, most bizarrely, the fact that he wore turquoise socks.

Mesiano appeared to have done nothing stranger than go for a shave, and smoke cigarettes outside the barber shop while awaiting his turn.

The video has raised tensions between Berlusconi and the judiciary even further following the Constitutional Court's decision earlier this month to strip the Prime Minister of his immunity from prosecution - thus making it likely that he will have to return to court on corruption charges.

At the weekend, the national magistrates association, CSM, expressed outrage that the judge had been secretly shadowed during his free time.

"The worst thing - the thing that really gives you the shivers - is the shadowing, the spying, the violation of privacy, the public ridicule, with the implied warning: look out, we're watching you," one journalist wrote in La Stampa on Saturday.

He added that the harassment of a judge in this way was something that so far "we've seen only in the movies".

Dario Franceschini, leader of the Democratic Party, said: "Mesiano was simply guilty of doing his job as a judge."

One Mediaset writer told The Independent yesterday: "This is the most disgraceful, pathetic and witless thing I've ever seen." (ANI)

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