Berlusconi will appeal to Europe over fraud case

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Silvio Berlusconi says he will appeal to Europe over his fraud conviction. Photo: AFP
16:37 CEST+02:00
Italy's billionaire former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday he will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over a tax fraud conviction delivered this month.

Berlusconi, 76, made the announcement in a letter to the Senate committee that will begin meetings next week to decide whether to expel him from parliament after the scandal-tainted tycoon lost his second and final appeal in the case.

"Berlusconi this morning presented his defence documents for the procedure that has been launched," the chair of the committee, opposition senator Dario Stefano, told reporters.

"He pre-announces an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights for violating of article seven of the European Convention on Human Rights," Stefano said.

The article stipulates that no one can be found guilty of a crime that was not on the books at the time it was committed and that no heavier penalty can be applied than the one applicable when the criminal offence was committed.

A lawyer from Berlusconi's legal defence team specified that no formal appeal had yet been lodged with the European court.

Berlusconi has been investigated, charged and convicted multiple times in a colourful career that has taken him from a successful business background to two decades of dominance of Italy's political scene.

But his convictions had always been overturned until the August 1st ruling.

He is also still appealing convictions in two more cases, including for having sex with an underage prostitute and for abuse of office when he was still prime minister.

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His supporters have threatened to resign en masse if Berlusconi is ejected from parliament and they argue that a new law that bars convicted criminals who are sentenced to more than two years in prison does not apply to him.

Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years for dodging hundreds of millions of euros in taxes linked to his media business, although the punishment was automatically reduced by three years thanks to an amnesty in force.

Due to his age, Berlusconi is unlikely even to serve the year in prison and will instead have to do community service or be placed under house arrest, starting in October when the sentence is implemented.

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