By Steve Scherer
ROME, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said his children feel persecuted just as Jewish families did in Nazi Germany because he is being hounded by the country's magistrates who want to eliminate him politically.
Berlusconi's comments came from an advance excerpt, released on Wednesday, of an interview with him by Italian television journalist Bruno Vespa for his latest book.
Replying to a question about whether his five children had asked him to sell his media empire and leave Italy to escape his legal troubles, Berlusconi said: "My children say that they feel like Jewish families in Germany under Hitler's regime. Truly, everyone is against us."
Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler murdered an estimated six million Jews during World War Two.
Berlusconi, who protests his innocence in a series of court cases which he blames on left-wing magistrates, is well-known for making controversial remarks, such as calling President Barack Obama "suntanned" after he was first elected in 2008.
During a heated 2003 exchange in the European Parliament, Berlusconi compared Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat who is now president of the assembly, to a Nazi concentration camp guard.
Berlusconi, 77, and his family rank among the 200 wealthiest billionaires in the world, with an estimated fortune of 6.2 billion euros ($8.35 billion) according to Forbes magazine.
His conviction for tax fraud earlier this year poses a serious threat to his decades-long political career because it comes with a ban from public office, though polls show millions of Italians would still vote for him.
Berlusconi is also on trial on charges of having paid for sex with a minor and then abusing the powers of his office to have her released from jail after she was arrested for theft.
Berlusconi has threatened repeatedly to bring down Prime Minister Enrico Letta's broad left-right coalition government if the Senate votes on Nov. 27 to expel the media magnate from parliament. ($1 = 0.7421 euros) (Editing by Gareth Jones)
Also on HuffPost:
On Wednesday, June 26, the third civil chamber of the Supreme Court will examine the appeal of a higher court sentence, in which Berlusconi was ordered to pay more than 560 million euros to the CIR, an Italian holding company, for the Lodo Mondadori scandal. <em>In this Oct. 6, 2005 file photo, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi touches his face during a press conference in Rome. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito , File)</em>
On Thursday, June 27, the leader of the People of Freedom Party will face a preliminary hearing in Naples. On May 9 of last year, the prosecutor asked for Berlusconi’s trial on charges of corruption for having paid three million euros in cash to Sergio de Gregorio, the then-elected senator from the IDV party, in order to pass him through the ranks of the center-right. The move would make the already difficult life of the Prodi government even more precarious. In addition to Berlusconi, an indictment was also sought for De Gregorio and the former editor of the Avanti newspaper, Walter Lavitola. <em>In this file photo taken on Sept. 27, 2009, Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi gestures as he attends a meeting in Milan, Italy. (AP Photo/Alberto Pellaschiar)</em>
In March 2012, the Fourth Criminal Court of Milan found Berlusconi and his brother Paolo guilty of involvement in the release of classified information at the time of the Unipol takeover of BNL. Once the court has filed a new opinion, the former premier’s lawyers will have 45 days to lodge an appeal. On appeal, however, the crime will already be time-barred. <em>In this file photo taken on Sept. 9, 2011, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi grimaces during a People of Freedom party meeting in Rome. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)</em>
Civil Lawsuit for Separation from Veronica Lario
Another court date in Milan. Berlusconi can expect a judgement by the appeals court in his suit for separation from Veronica Lario. In December, the court sentenced Berlusconi to pay 3 million euros per month in alimony to his former wife. The appeals court dismissed the former prime minister's request to urgently suspend provisional enforcement of the judgment, but granted Berlusconi a small discount: He will have to calculate the amount in arrears starting from September, instead of May, 2010. <em>In this Friday, May 11, 2012 file photo, Italian former premier Silvio Berlusconi grimaces as he attends the funeral service of Italian entrepreneur Giampiero Cantoni in Milan. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno, File)</em>
In May 2012, the Second Court of Appeal in Milan confirmed Berlusconi's 4-year-long prison sentence on charges of tax fraud, although three of the years have been pardoned. Berlusconi is accused of tax fraud in the sale of Mediaset TV rights. The judges also confirmed a judgment of the lower court, which had sentenced the PDL leader to a 5-year ban from holding public office. An appeal has already been filed in the Supreme Court. <em>Silvio Berlusconi speaks at a rally in Brescia, Italy, Saturday, May 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)</em>