ROME -- Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi has infuriated Italy's legal establishment by blasting a group of female magistrates as "feminist" and "communist" for what he said was a 200,000-euro-a-day ($260,000-a-day) divorce settlement.
The comments, and the backlash, added to the drama surrounding Berlusconi's return to public life amid his sexual and legal scandals and his new role as the leader of a center-right coalition campaigning in Italy' s Feb. 24-25 election.
Media initially reported that his divorce from his second wife, Veronica Lario, would cost him 36 million euros a year. That breaks down to about 100,000 euros a day.
But on Tuesday, Berlusconi told the La7 private television network that the amount was much higher.
"These are three women judges, feminists and communists, OK?" the three-time premier said. "These are the Milan judges who have persecuted me since 1994."
Berlusconi has long accused Milan prosecutors and magistrates of politically inspired cases against him, and he frequently accuses his enemies of being communists.
Milan chief judge Livia Pomodoro said yesterday she was "surprised and hurt" by the remarks, and "as a woman I am degraded." In a joint statement, Pomodoro and the head of Milan's appeals court "strongly rejected any insinuation of partiality" by the judges. Pomodoro herself was not on the case.
The president of Italy's national magistrates' association, Rodolfo Sabelli, said Berlusconi's accusations were "unacceptable." Berlusconi is appealing the judgment. -- AP