ROME – Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has asserted that 600,000 migrants who arrived illegally in Italy are "ready" to commit crimes and his center-right party would send nearly all back to their home countries.
Berlusconi made the comments in a TV interview on Sunday, a day after an alleged far-right extremist was arrested for allegedly shooting six Africans in a central Italian town. The interview was with TG5, part of his media empire.
His opponents sought to gain traction on the remarks Monday. Democratic Party chief Matteo Renzi and populist 5-Star Movement leader Luigi Di Maio are blaming some of the policies during Berlusconi's three stints in office for the influx of migrants that have become a dominant campaign theme in Italy's March 4 election.
Berlusconi is ineligible for office due to a tax fraud conviction.