Premier Silvio Berlusconi once again accused magistrates of mounting a politically motivated campaign against him as he appeared in court Monday on charges that he bribed a witness to lie in a trial.
Berlusconi's hearing in a corruption case coincided with commemorations honoring magistrates killed by domestic terrorists. A handful of demonstrators gathered outside the court in support of prosecutors, and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano choked up in Rome as he delivered a speech honoring ones slain in the line of duty.
It was the premier's fourth court appearance in recent months. He has pledged to appear as often as official duties allow to defend himself in four active cases. He denies wrongdoing.
Berlusconi is also on trial for allegedly paying an underage prostitute and using his influence to cover it up. In two other cases, he is accused of tax fraud.
During a break in Monday's corruption trial, Berlusconi called the prostitute case a "joke" and accused prosecutors of using "the law like a weapon against those they consider their political adversaries."
He later issued an official statement to mark the "Day of Memory" honoring all those killed by terrorists, including magistrates.