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.

Berlusconi against free speech


In Silvio Berlusconi‘s Italy, not just freedom for gay people is threatened.

Also press freedom.

From Italian news agency ANSA:

Berlusconi sues L’Unita

Left-wing newspaper accuses premier of “Fascism”

Rome, September 2 – Premier Silvio Berlusconi is suing Italian newspaper L’Unita‘ for libel.

Berlusconi‘s lawyers sent the left-leaning daily a letter Wednesday asking for two million euros in damages for allegedly vilifying his personal life and performance as premier.

The letter cited articles by four of the paper’s journalists in addition to editor-in-chief Concita De Gregorio.

Berlusconi and Patrizia D'Addario

Offending articles included a piece claiming Berlusconi cancelled important appointments in order to spend time with escort Patrizia D’Addario.

Another suggested that the premier’s staff had appealed to Catholic Church insiders to take a soft stance on the sex scandal which erupted afterwards. Also considered defamatory were articles alleging collusion between public broadcaster Rai and Berlusconi’s own Mediaset network against [Rupert Murdoch’s] satellite TV provider Sky.

Lawyers contested quotes taken from television comic Luciana Littizzetto insinuating that Berlusconi used Viagra.

The letter called the jokes ”personally damaging” on the basis of representing Berlusconi as someone with erectile dysfunction, ”which he is not”.

L’Unita editors responded Wednesday with an appeal for solidarity from its readers saying that the lawsuit smacked of fascism and accusing Berlusconi of wanting to shut the paper down.

A statement rebutting claims of defamation by Berlusconi‘s lawyers noted that charges of lese majeste, or offences to a sovereign’s dignity, weren’t a crime in Italy.

Founded by the father of Italian communism, Antonio Gramsci, L’Unita was long the official newspaper of the Italian Communist Party.

Today, it remains close to the left-wing opposition.

L’Unita is the fourth paper to be sued by Berlusconi for libel after Italian’s second leading daily La Republica, the French Nouvel Observateur and Spanish El Pais.

The lawsuit is the latest in an ongoing feud between the premier and left-leaning media outlets, who he blames for fueling the scandals which dogged him over the summer. In June, the Espresso group which owns La Repubblica filed suit against the premier for telling businesspeople to boycott advertising ”in certain newspapers”.

Tens of thousands of people, including journalists and media rights activists, gathered in a Rome square Saturday to defend press freedom, accusing Premier Silvio Berlusconi of trying to silence critical voices: here.

Venice film festival: here.

Berlusconi-Roman Catholic church conflict


Silvio Berlusconi, cartoon

Italian Rightist Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi used to be close to George W. Bush. Bush is not in the White House anymore.

Berlusconi used to be buddies with Rupert Murdoch. Not anymore by now.

Berlusconi used to be friends with at least sections of the Roman Catholic church. That also does not seem to be like in the old days.

From Italian news agency ANSA:

2009-08-28 15:10

Berlusconi paper vs Church editor

Bishops paper chief Boffo accused of hypocrisy

Rome, August 28 – A daily [Il Giornale] owned by the family of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Friday accused the editor [Dino Boffo] of the Italian bishops daily [Avvenire] of hypocrisy in criticising the premier’s allegedly immoral lifestyle. …

Boffo, 57, who has penned editorials on the premier’s friendship with a teenage girl and a prostitute’s claims she slept with him, condemned the attack as ”barbaric”. He claimed he had been the ”first victim” in the phone-call affair.

The Italian bishops association (CEI) issued a statement confirming ”full confidence” in Boffo and praised him for editing Avvenire with ”indisputable professional ability, balance and prudence”. …

But Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana, sold in churches every Sunday, has gone further than Avvenire, saying the premier had ”overstepped the bounds of decency” with his ”indefensible” behaviour.

MEDIA STORM KICKED OFF WITH TEEN IN MAY

The premier has been at the centre of a media storm that began in May with a public divorce spat with his wife Veronica Lario and allegations of links with a teenage girl – Noemi Letizia – which surfaced after Lario accused him of ”consorting with minors”.

At the time, L’Avvenire published a front-page editorial calling for ”a premier who, with sobriety, is able to be the mirror of his country’s soul”.

Berlusconi and Patrizia D'Addario

After more recent allegations from escort girl Patrizia D’Addario who said she spent a night with the premier at his official residence in Rome, Avvenire voiced a sense of ”malaise,” ”desolation” and ”suffering” and ran a series of readers’ letters voicing their concern over Berlusconi’s alleged behaviour.

In his most recent editorial, Boffo accused Berlusconi of ”embarrassing much of the country”.

PREMIER SKIPS ‘REPENTANCE’ MASS, SUES FOR DAMAGES

The Il Giornale attack came on the same day he cancelled a much-anticipated attendance at a high-profile Catholic ‘repentance’ Mass.

The newspaper’s blast also followed Thursday night’s news that the premier was suing left-leaning daily La Repubblica for one million euros in damages over questions it has been posing daily on Letizia and D’Addario and a separate article suggesting the premier might be open to blackmail.

See also here.