An appeals court upheld the tax fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence against former Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday in a case that could see him barred from public office for five years.
In Italy, convictions are not considered definitive until all appeals are exhausted, and Berlusconi’s lawyers are expected to appeal the case to the nation’s highest Court of Cassation.
In October, a lower court convicted Berlusconi in a scheme that involved inflating the price his Mediaset media empire paid for TV rights to U.S. movies and pocketing the difference. Berlusconi has long denied the charges and says he’s a victim of politically motivated prosecutors.
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.”