• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Convict Silvio Berlusconi braces for key court date

AFP · 10 Apr 2014, 09:24

Published: 10 Apr 2014 09:24 GMT+02:00

The court in Milan has to issue its ruling by April 15th, deciding whether the disgraced billionaire tycoon will do community service or be placed under house arrest following a conviction for tax fraud from last year.

The court appointment is a further humiliation for Berlusconi, who has already been expelled from parliament over his conviction and is banned from standing as a candidate in elections for six years.

The hearing in Milan is due to start at 1500 GMT and Berlusconi's presence cannot be excluded, although he most often skips his many court appointments as defendants in Italy are not compelled to attend.

Following court procedure for this type of post-sentencing hearing, it will be preceded on the same day by around 50 other cases for convicts whose surnames also begin with "B", Italian media reported.

Among the cases being heard on the same day are those of a drug addict asking to be released from house arrest and a Senegalese migrant appealing against deportation order, Italian media reported.

Berlusconi has also received a visit from a social worker at his sprawling mansion outside Milan as part of legal procedures ahead of the court hearing, which will be followed by more visits in the months to come.

The ruling will come at a critical time for Berlusconi on the political front ahead of European elections next month as he remains the figurehead leader and main force behind Italy's top centre-right party.

His Forza Italia group has fallen behind in the opinion polls faced with a resurgent centre-left under Prime Minister Matteo Renzi but under normal conditions Berlusconi would still be a formidable rival.

Berlusconi was sentenced to a year's prison for the fraud, which involves the sale and purchase of film distribution rights by his business empire Mediaset.

But the 77-year-old politician will not have to go to prison because of the leniency shown in Italian courts to over-70s who are convicted of non-violent crimes.

The sentence is also highly likely to be further reduced for good behaviour to less than a year.

Experts say it is most probable the court will decide for community service since this is Berlusconi's first definitive conviction despite more than 20 years of legal tussles that he says show judicial prejudice.

Community service could involve working in a non-governmental organisation or religious charity and a long series of publicity-seeking charities have already signalled their readiness to take him in.

The latest media reports say that the Milan office in charge of the execution of sentences has put in a request to the court that Berlusconi work in an old person's home outside Milan for one day a week.

The conditions are easier than house arrest but Berlusconi will still have to respect a curfew and will be banned from meeting other people with criminal convictions, which includes at least one close friend.

There will also be some limits on his movements.

Under normal rules he would not be allowed to leave the borders of the Lombardy region where Milan is and will have to seek a special exemption for example if he wants to travel to Rome for political engagements.

Story continues below…

"If he gets community service then that might take another month or two to implement," a source close to Berlusconi's defence said.

Berlusconi claims total innocence of any crime that he has ever been charged with and regularly accuses a large part of the Italian judiciary of ganging up against him because of a leftist political bias..

He is currently involved in two other court cases.

In an trial set to start on June 20th, he will appeal a seven-year prison sentence and lifetime ban from parliament for having sex with an underage 17-year-old prostitute and abusing his official powers.

He is also a defendant in a trial for allegedly paying a €3 million bribe to get a senator to join his party's ranks in 2006 in a move that helped bring down a rival centre-left government.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Italy and the Netherlands offer to share UN council seat
Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni at the Security Council. Photo: Kena Betancur/AFP

Italy's Foreign Minister said the shared term would show "unity" from two European countries.

Conte theatrics a boon for Italy, and Chelsea fans
Antonio Conte during the Italy-Spain game on Monday. Photo: Philppe Lopez/AFP

A "great" Italian feat toppled Spain at Euro 2016, but Antonio Conte's touchline theatrics were just as dramatic for Italy and Chelsea fans during an emphatic 2-0 win over the defending champions.

Five essential Bud Spencer films to watch this weekend
Italian actor, Bud Spencer, passed away on Monday. Photo: Screenshot/YouTube

If you're looking to remember - or even discover - the delights of the late Bud Spencer's work, here are five films you should definitely watch.

Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
Gubbio (L) and Norcia (R). Photos: Angus Kirk/EricHuybrechts

Rome has a lot to offer, but if you're looking for variety or simply want a break away from the city, there's a treasure trove of towns within easy reach.

Euro 2016
Germany boss to banish Italy 'curse' in quarter-final clash
Germany coach Joachim Loew says Germany do not have an Italian 'curse'. Photo: Patrik Stollarz/AFP

Germany have lost their last eight matches to Italy at the knockout stages of major tournaments.

Bangladesh official charged over Italian's murder
Tavella's body leaves Bangladesh. Photo: Munir Az Zaman/AFP

The Italian aid worker was shot last September.

Brexit
Italy, Germany and France vow 'new impulse' for EU
In a joint statement, Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi have promised to reorder the EU. Photo: John MacDougall/AFP

"There is a great need to remodel the European project in the coming years."

Naples mobsters bring home dough from bread sales
Photo: Rick Gordon

From supermarkets to street vendors, all bread suppliers in the northern neighbourhoods of Naples have been forced to buy their products from bakeries controlled by the Camorra mafia - or else face the consequences.

Spaghetti western film star Bud Spencer dies
The late Bud Spencer in Cannes in 1985. Photo: Dominque Faget Ralph Gatti/AFP

Italian actor Bud Spencer, who starred in a string of spaghetti westerns, died on Monday in Rome aged 86, his family confirmed.

Euro 2016
Italy dump Spain out of Euro 2016 with 2-0 win
Graziano Pelle scored the second goal. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle scored the goals as Italy exacted revenge for their Euro 2012 final hammering by dumping Spain out of Euro 2016 with a deserved 2-0 last 16 win in Paris on Monday.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
Culture
Italian restaurant crowned the best in the world
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Ten breathtaking Italian gems you've never heard of
National
Eritrean held in Italy denies being trafficking kingpin
Health
Italian man 'turns French' after brain injury
Travel
Six reasons why South Tyrol will absolutely blow your mind
National
Why Italy's facing another tough summer
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
Politics
Five reasons Rome's mayoral elections actually matter
Travel
Ten Airbnb apartments where you'll feel at home in Rome
Politics
Quiz: Silvio Berlusconi versus Donald Trump - who said it?
National
Crew who sunk with WWII sub 'wanted to be found': relative
Culture
Why the average ancient Roman worker was dead by 30
Did a Nazi official save Ponte Vecchio from destruction?
National
How the brutal murder of an anti-mafia hero altered Sicily
Travel
These are the best beaches within easy reach of Rome
National
Why Italians are falling out of love with the EU
Business & Money
Foreign, female and a self-made success in arduous Italy
2,528
jobs available