Italy: Berlusconi taking office ban to Euro court

Former prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi. Picture: Getty
Former prime minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi. Picture: Getty
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FORMER Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is turning to Europe’s human rights court in a bid to avoid a ban on public office and other punishments for his tax fraud conviction, the media mogul’s aides said yesterday.

Berlusconi was found guilty of artificially inflating the amounts paid for film rights by his Mediaset empire to reduce the company’s tax liabilities.

He claims he is an innocent victim of magistrates who sympathise with the left, but the verdict was upheld by Italy’s top criminal court last month.

Angelino Alfano, a Berlusconi aide, said the petition to Strasbourg “shows that the Berlusconi case isn’t closed”.

Mr Alfano did not say when or on what grounds the petition to the European rights court was filed. However, “we are really confident, that at the European level, we can reach a finding of innocence that so far in Italy hasn’t been possible,” he said.
Italy’s Court of Cassation, its supreme court, confirmed a four-year prison term – though Berlusconi is unlikely to serve it – and ordered a Milan appeals court to determine the length of a ban on serving in public office from one to three years.

A senate panel will today begin formal discussions to determine if Berlusconi must surrender his senate seat. That deliberation is not based on the ban ordered by the supreme court, but a 2012 law says those sentenced to more than two years in prison are ineligible to hold public office for six years.

The president of the senate panel insisted its work would go forward without waiting for a decision from Strasbourg.