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Embattled Berlusconi Describes Magistrates as 'A Cancer of Democracy'

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has made his first court appearance at the Milan trial in which he is accused of bribing his lawyer to give false testimony about his business dealings.

Berlusconi, 74, was accused Monday of paying British lawyer David Mills $600,000 to lie under oath in two corruption trials in the late 1990's. During a break in the proceedings, Berlusconi described magistrates as being "a cancer of democracy." He also criticized prosecutors in Milan, accusing them of pursuing a politically-based vendetta against him.

The Italian prime minister is facing several other court cases - the most high-profile of which involves accusations that he had sex with an underage prostitute. Berlusconi has denied all of the charges.