A Milan court on Thursday convicted former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi of breach of confidentiality for the illegal publication of wiretapped conversations related to a failed bank takeover in a newspaper owned by his media empire.
The court sentenced him to one year in jail, but issued no orders on the carrying out of the sentence. In Italy, it is rare for anyone to be put behind bars pending a possible appeal except in the case of very serious crimes like murder.
Berlusconi’s brother, Paolo Berlusconi, was convicted of the same charge and sentenced to two years and three months. Paolo Berlusconi is publisher of the Milan newspaper il Giornale, which published the transcript of the conversation.
Silvio Berlusconi’s defense team had accused the court of seeking a speedy verdict for political impact.
Still, the verdict does not directly affect Berlusconi’s eligibility to participate in a new government because Italy — despite several attempts to pass such legislation — has no law banning people convicted of minor crimes from parliament. His center-right coalition last week finished third in parliamentary elections that saw no clear winner. Talks on forming a new government are expected to begin March 20.
In the photo at the link you see Berlusconi sitting right in front of Lega Nord’s Leader.
Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi praised Benito Mussolini for “having done good” despite the Fascist dictator’s anti-Jewish laws, immediately sparking expressions of outrage as Europe on Sunday held Holocaust remembrances.
Berlusconi also defended Mussolini for allying himself with Hitler, saying he likely reasoned that it would be better to be on the winning side.
The media mogul, whose conservative forces are polling second in voter surveys ahead of next month’s election, spoke to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony in Milan to commemorate the Holocaust.
In 1938, before the outbreak of World War II, Mussolini’s regime passed the so-called “racial laws,” barring Jews from Italy’s universities and many professions, among other bans. When Germany’s Nazi regime occupied Italy during the war, thousands from the tiny Italian Jewish community were deported to death camps.
“It is difficult now to put oneself in the shoes of who was making decisions back then,” Berlusconi said of Mussolini’s support for Hitler. “Certainly the (Italian) government then, fearing that German power would turn into a general victory, preferred to be allied with Hitler’s Germany rather that oppose it.”
A Milan court on Friday convicted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi of tax fraud and sentenced the media mogul to four years in prison — a verdict that could see him barred from public office for five years.
The 76-year-old billionaire businessman — who just two days ago said he would not run in Italy’s spring election — is expected to remain free until the appeals process is exhausted. In Italy, cases must pass two levels of appeal before verdicts are final.
Prosecutors had brought the case against Berlusconi and 10 other co-defendants over the purchase of rights to broadcast U.S. films on Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire.
In addition to the prison sentence, the court said Berlusconi could not hold public office for five years or manage any company for three years, penalties that would take force only if the conviction is upheld.
“It is a political conviction that I can define perfectly well as incredible and intolerable,” Berlusconi said in a phone call to his Italia 1 private network.
He denied that there was any connection between this case and his decision to step aside and allow another center-right candidate to seek the premiership.
“My lawyers and I never thought that such a conviction would be possible,” he said.
I won’t shed a tear over this, during his term the Far Right in Italy has become excessively obstreperous.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is set to resign on Saturday after a new budget law is approved in parliament, making way for an emergency government and ending one of the most scandal-plagued eras in Italy’s post-war history.
The Chamber of Deputies was due to start a debate at 1130 GMT (6:30 a.m. EDT) on a package of economic reforms intended to reverse a collapse of market confidence that has threatened to trigger a wider crisis across the whole euro zone.
Approval is expected after the measures, which cleared the Senate on Friday, were passed unchanged in the lower house budget commission in the morning.
The definitive approval of the package by the lower house will mark the final act of the Berlusconi government.
He is expected to hold a last cabinet meeting and then go to the Quirinale Palace and hand his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano.
The Italian government’s borrowing costs spiked on Monday, with yields on its bonds getting perilously close to the 7% mark, as faith wanes in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The yield for 10-year Italian bonds closed at 6.66% Monday, a foreboding number, considering the nation’s debt problems. Even so, yields eased from earlier highs of 6.8%, which marked the highest level since the euro was established in 1999.
The European Central Bank’s bond buying program has helped keep Italian bonds from skyrocketing even higher, said Nick Stamenkovic, fixed income analyst for RIA Capital Markets in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The 7% level isn’t an automatic bailout trigger but it is the level that prompted bailouts for Portugal and Ireland. Even though those countries share PIIGS status with Italy, they’re tiny in comparison.
Keeping Italian bond yields under 7% is essential because unlike Greece, Italy is too big to bail out, Stamenkovic added.
Italy is the third-largest economy in Europe, behind Germany and France, and it has one of the largest bond markets in Europe.
“Italy makes Greece makes look a tea party,” said Stamenkovic.
Part of the problem is Italy’s staggering debt of €1.9 trillion. BGC Partners called Italy’s 120% debt to GDP ratio as “disproportionate and unacceptable.”
Berlusconi appears unfazed. And that could cost him a vote of confidence Tuesday.
“The problem is that with a potential political crisis looming, Berlusconi seems to be fairly relaxed and at the same time not in any hurry to step-up the pace of reforms,” said Deutsche Bank analysts Jim Reid and Colin Tan, in a research note. “Unfortunately for the market, it doesn’t seem that Berlusconi agrees with the need for rapid action.”
Tens of thousands of protestors took to the streets of Rome over the weekend in protest of Berlusconi’s reforms.
The Deutsche Bank analysts said that after the G-20 summit, Berlusconi said that “Italy does not feel the crisis” and he described the Italian bond sell-off as “a passing fashion.” They also pointed to Berlusconi’s comments that “the restaurants are full, the planes are fully booked and the hotel resorts are fully booked as well.”
Regime change is de rigueur in Europe. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is in the process of resigning as part of a plan to push through that country’s bailout package.
Getting rid of Berlusconi is an essential step in getting the Italian economy back on track, said Stamenkovic. He said the ECB is unlikely to continue buying Italian bonds unless the Italians overhaul their leadership.
“The last thing the ECB wants is to be seen buying Italian bonds while they’re doing nothing in response,” said Stamenkovic. “Berlusconi’s the main stumbling block. He is clearly an obstacle to get reforms in place. If they removed him, that would clear the decks.”
Europe’s worst-case scenarios
The very notion that Berlusconi might leave his top job and take his scandals with him was well received by European stock markets, which reversed their losses on Monday.
London’s FTSE (UKX) rose 1% at the close, while the CAC40 (CAC40) in Paris and the DAX (DAX) in Frankfurt surged nearly 2.8%.
But even if Berlusconi does step down, that wouldn’t necessarily fix Italy’s debt problem.
“There has been a lot of speculation that a different leader would lead to a sharp retraction in Italian bond yields,” said Gary Jenkins, analyst with Evolution Securities. “That might well be the case in the short term but considering the starting debt position, the economic outlook and the general lack of confidence in Italian debt it promises to be a challenging period of time for any Italian leader.”
Will the social conservatives who have railed about Polanski for decades go after the avowedly conservative Berlusconi as well? It remains to be seen, but so far I haven’t seen signs of that sort of ideological consistency.
Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has been indicted to stand trial on charges of paying for sex with an under-age prostitute and abuse of power.
Examining judge Cristina Di Censo said the process would start on 6 April, after prosecutors in Milan asked for an immediate trial.
Mr Berlusconi denies paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug when she was 17.
He also rejects claims that he abused his power by seeking her release when she was detained in another case.
He has called the accusations “groundless” and dismissed the case as a farce.
Pot. Meet kettle.
The rumors about Italian PM Berlusconi paying for sex with an underage woman have gotten Vatican officials and the Pope to comment on the morality of Italian officials, but it’s curious that they were silent for so long about the huge number of sex scandals involving church officials in many parts of the world.
Perhaps the Pope and Vatican officials should start by cleaning up their own house before calling on others to set a strong moral example.
Berlusconi shakily survives a close no confidence vote which foretells of future difficulties gaining initiative.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi miraculously survived a confidence vote on Tuesday. But German columnists say that is bad news for Italy. With a leadership focused primarily on retaining power, they say, the big loser is the entire country’s future.
Many in Italy had thought that the country might finally see the back of the “Cavaliere.” But it was not to be. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi managed to survive two confidence votes on Tuesday to retain his hold on power.
It would appear, however, to be a tenuous grip.
His margin of victory in the lower house of parliament — 314 in support of the premier with 311 against him — suggests that Berlusconi may have significant difficulties getting legislation passed as his government moves forward. His current five-year term isn’t set to end until 2013, but many observers expect there to be early elections.
“From the political and parliamentary point of view, Berlusconi scored a clear victory,” Stefano Folli, a leading Italian political analyst, told the Associated Press on Tuesday. “But on the other hand, the government was weak before this vote and will be weak after it.”
Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi provoked outrage in Italy on Monday after trying to convert hundreds of Italian women to Islam.
Gaddafi was in Italy as part of a two-day visit.
Some 700 young women, drafted in by a hostess agency, were invited to two separate events in Rome to listen to the Libyan leader’s religious views.
Each was reportedly paid 70 euros.