Italian #politics: Court upholds Berlusconi tax conviction

Photo of Silvio Berlusconi from Wikimedia commons, furnished by Presidenza della RepubblicaPhoto of Silvio Berlusconi from Wikimedia commons, furnished by Presidenza della Repubblica

We endeavor to bring all aspects of Italian culture to life on our blog. Certainly, the recent news about former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi cannot be overlooked in the context that Italian political debate forms an integral part of the modern landscape in Italy. In fact, if I were in Italy right now, I am sure that I would be having very lively conversations with my Italian friends on this topic.

While our blog is not designed to be a political forum, we are certainly interested in hearing the views of our readers on this topic.

In researching this topic, I read several useful articles, including material published on the BBC and Financial Times sites. However, I have leveraged primarily an article that was published in the Wall Street Journal to frame the answers that are provided in this article:

Italy’s supreme court recently rejected Silvio Berlusconi’s final appeal against his conviction for tax fraud involving his Mediaset company, thereby upholding the tax fraud conviction and a four-year jail sentence.

Will Berlusconi go to jail?

Not likely. Mr. Berlusconi, 76 years old, isn’t likely to go to jail as a result of Thursday’s ruling because most convicted felons in Italy over the age of 70 are given house arrest or community service.

Can Berlusconi continue to hold his seat in the Senate?

The recent conviction included the jail sentence of four years as well as a five-year ban on holding public office. While the Italian Supreme Court upheld the conviction and the jail sentence, it ordered an appeals court to review the ban on public office, which could see it shortened to between one and three years.

That decision by the appeals court could take months, during which Mr. Berlusconi can retain his Senate seat. In turn, a ban would only become effective after the Senate holds a formal vote on his ejection.

Can Berlusconi continue his political activities?

Yes. However, in the fall, magistrates will decide whether to subject Mr. Berlusconi to house arrest or community service. House arrest would make it more difficult for the former premier to continue to conduct his political activities.

What does Berlusconi say?

In an emotional televised address, Mr. Berlusconi said that "20 years of service to my country has been rewarded with a groundless sentence that deprives me of my personal freedom and political rights." However, he said the ruling means his supporters must "continue the battle" to reform Italy’s judiciary.

Ci sentiamo presto, Lina

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