Silvio Berlusconi Found Guilty Of Tax Fraud And Faces House Arrest

Thu, 08/01/2013 - 13:31
Silvio Berlusconi

Premier and leader of the centre-right Popolo della Libertà (People of Freedom, PdL) political party, Silvio Berlusconi, has been found guilty of tax fraud and has been sentenced to jail. He also faces a potential ban from public office in what is being billed as a historical verdict. The politician and media mogul is head of broadcaster Mediaset and it was in relation to its activities that Berlusconi was found guilty. Judges at Italy’s Supreme Court of Cassation deliberated for more than seven hours to reach a verdict. Although Berlusconi has been investigated and found guilty during various trials, this is the first time he has been condemned after three trials, because the Italian legal system allows for two appeals before reaching a final verdict. On previous occasions, Berlusconi has been acquitted of charges because the statute of limitations ran out on the legal proceedings – so an acquittal in such cases is not an indication of innocence. The guilty verdict and four-year prison sentence does not mean that 76-year-old Berlusconi will go to prison. Firstly, four years are reduced to one because of the indulto (a general amnesty/pardon passed by Parliament in 2006) which applies to the case and because he is deemed too old. He has been sentenced to house arrest or community service. Berlusconi can choose which he would prefer and the Italian media has reported that before the verdict he expressed a preference to undergo house arrest. No one knows if he would be able to attend parliamentary sessions while under house arrest given the situation is unprecedented. The real blow to the man who has been Italian Prime Minister three times is the potential ban from public office. However, whether the ban will be for one to three years has yet to be decided. The Supreme Court decision annulled a three-year ban choosing to send the case back to the Court of Appeal to be reviewed. But the statute of limitations on the case runs out in September 2013, raising questions whether a ban will ever come into effect.