Former Italian PM Berlusconi sentenced to four years in prison over tax case
Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison yesterday for tax fraud regarding the sales of media rights.
The Court of Cassation has confirmed Berlusconi’s jail term within the Mediaset trial, although because of general amnesty the term will be reduced to one year only.
76-year-old Berlusconi, Italy’s former PM and leader of the right wing coalition, won’t go to prison because of his age. He is likely to spend the term under house arrest or carrying out community service.
The Court of Cassation has also asked for a review of the Lower Court’s ban on Berlusconi holding public office. Once the Court of Appeal confirms the term, Berlusconi will lose the right to vote, to being elected and to dealing with public administration.
Silvio Berlusconi has commented on the sentence in a video broadcasted on Italian television. He thanked his family, lawyers and his supporters in the People of Freedom Party.
He said: “Today’s sentence confirms that a part of the Bench of our country has become irresponsible and cannot be controlled…. It has become a new ‘power’ influencing the political life of Italy.”
He continued: “Since 1992 part of the Bench claimed to raise the moral standards of the civil society with the aim of supporting the left party. It was only in 1994 with the beginning of my political engagement that the ghost of communism finally beat a retreat. Since then a part of the Bench has systematically used trials to attack me. The majority of these trials ended with an absolution.”
Silvio Berlusconi’s final sentence has a strong impact on the already delicate Italian political situation. The government coalition between the Democratic Party and the People of Freedom Party may crack without one of its main leaders.
The president of the republic, Giorgio Napolitano, and prime minister Enrico Letta have said that the decision of the Bench has to be respected and that the interest of the country comes first.
Berlusconi’s sentence will be soon discussed in the Upper House. The survival of the government and Italy’s political stability currently depends on the position of the single parties.