Berlusconi sentenced to four years in prison


This video from Italy is called Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to 4 years in prison.

From Associated Press:

Silvio Berlusconi Trial: Former Italian Prime Minister Sentenced For Tax Evasion

By COLLEEN BARRY

10/26/12 11:59 AM ET EDT

MILAN — A court in Milan Friday convicted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi of tax fraud and sentenced the media mogul to four years in prison, his first prison sentence in years of criminal probes.

The 76-year-old billionaire businessman is expected to remain free until the appeals process is exhausted. In Italy, cases must pass two levels of appeal before the verdicts are final.

Berlusconi received a suspended sentence in 1997 for false bookkeeping, but that conviction was reversed on appeal. Other criminal investigation probes against him on charges including corruption had ended in acquittal or were thrown out for statute of limitations.

For nearly 20 years, Berlusconi has dominated the Italian political scene, but his star began to lose its glitter after a recent sex scandal that has pushed him into another trial in the same courthouse, and amid the European debt crisis that effectively forced him out of office last November.

Earlier in the week, Berlusconi had announced he wouldn’t run for a fourth term, leaving his center right party under pressure to find another charismatic figure before next spring’s election.

Berlusconi wasn’t in the courtroom. In a statement, his lawyers denounced the verdict as `’absolutely incredible,” and said they would appeal.

In this and other cases against him, Berlusconi has described himself as the innocent victim of prosecutors he contends sympathize with the left.

Berlusconi, along with other defendants convicted in the case, must deposit a total of (EURO)10 million ($13 million) into a court-ordered fund appeals, which could take years, proceed.

Prosecutors alleged that the defendants were behind a scheme to purchase the rights to broadcast U.S. movies on Berlusconi’s private TV networks in his Mediaset empire through a series of offshore companies and had falsely declared the payments to avoid taxes.

23 thoughts on “Berlusconi sentenced to four years in prison

    • There are differences between laws in the USA and Italy, but I am not an expert in that. I do know that there are more legal investigations into Berlusconi than in just this one issue.

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  1. Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:40pm EDT

    (Reuters) – The center-right bloc will decide “in the next few days” whether to withdraw confidence for Prime Minister Mario Monti in parliament or support him until elections in April, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Saturday.

    Monti’s government of non-elected technocrats is backed by the center-left, the center and the center-right. It would have to resign if it lost the support of the entire center-right.

    (Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Ralph Gowling)

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  2. I’m back: Berlusconi’s post-conviction about-face

    By NICOLE WINFIELD

    — Oct. 27 1:35 PM EDT

    ROME (AP) — Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi has responded to his tax fraud conviction with a full-out attack on the government of Mario Monti, warning his party might withdraw its support because of what he considers Monti’s counterproductive fiscal reforms.

    Berlusconi, 76, also lashed out at the “dictatorship of magistrates” responsible for his conviction and, while confirming he won’t run for premier in spring elections, announced an undefined new movement to reform Italy’s justice system.

    Berlusconi delivered an at times breathless 50-minute speech in one of his Milan-area villas and took another 40 minutes of questions, a day after a Milan court sentenced him to four years in prison and barred him from public office for five years in a decade-old case involving the purchase of TV rights of U.S. films for his media empire.

    The sentence isn’t definitive until all appeals are exhausted, and Berlusconi’s lawyers vowed to appeal. He remains free and is unlikely to serve jail time given his age and the possibility that the statute of limitations may expire before the two levels of appeals are completed.

    But he nevertheless came out fighting Saturday, saying he had decided to end a self-imposed media silence since resigning from office last year, because he couldn’t stay quiet anymore.

    He announced what sounded like a political platform to undo many of Monti’s reforms. And he warned that his People of Freedom party would be meeting in the coming days to decide whether to withdraw support from Monti’s government and force early elections.

    He said it would do so to end the “recessive spiral” that Monti’s reforms had brought about.

    The rambling speech got personal at times, such as when he denounced a now-famous smirk about him shared by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s then-President Nicolas Sarkozy, which he termed an “attempted assassination of my international credibility.”

    Berlusconi had wavered about his political future in the year since he was forced from office amid sex scandals and his inability to reassure financial markets that he could push through the economic reforms needed to ward off a debt crisis.

    Monti was tapped to head a technical government, which has pushed through a series of tax hikes, structural reforms and austerity measures that, while hurting ordinary Italians, have significantly brought down Italy’s borrowing rates.

    On Saturday, Italians in several cities took to the streets for a “No Monti” day of protests.

    Monti had initially said he wouldn’t run in spring elections, but recently hinted that he could stay on for a second term under the right circumstances. Berlusconi had even come out and supported Monti after saying he wouldn’t seek a political comeback.

    But apparently things changed after the billionaire media mogul received the stiffest sentence among the four co-defendants convicted Friday 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 called the conviction “absurd” and said if a country can’t count on impartial judges, it ceases to be a democracy.

    He blamed Merkel for many of Italy’s woes, criticized Monti’s fiscal reforms as contributing to Italy’s recession and insisted his only error in the past was to not have secured a greater parliamentary majority in 2008 last elections.

    Berlusconi’s re-emergence on the political scene came a day before his beleaguered party heads into a regional election in Sicily seen as a test of its ability to pull itself together after Berlusconi’s fall from grace last year and a series of local political corruption scandals that have soured Italians on their entire political class.

    The Sicily vote is a harbinger of what Italy may witness in the spring as voters go to the polls for a general election amid recession and a political transition that has seen comic Beppe Grillo’s populist Five-Star Movement threaten Italy’s traditional center-right and center-left parties.

    During his three stints as premier, Berlusconi had sought to reform Italy’s notoriously slow and inefficient judiciary. In the absence of a wholesale reform, his forces in parliament passed several laws designed to help him and his colleagues in their legal woes, including passing immunity bills that temporarily halted trials against him.

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