Passport row keeps Berlusconi in Italy

Silvio Berlusconi has failed in an attempt to get his passport back, after it was confiscated following his tax fraud conviction, the latest move in a "chain of attacks" according to his political party.

Passport row keeps Berlusconi in Italy
Silvio Berlusconi's passport was confiscated after he was convicted of tax fraud on August 1st. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Berlusconi had been hoping to reclaim his passport in order to travel to Brussels for a meeting with the centre-right European Popular Party (EPP), Italian media reported on Wednesday.

The former prime minister had his passport confiscated after he was convicted of tax fraud on August 1st, for which he was thrown out of the Senate and is expected to do community service next year.

But rather than view the denial to attend today’s meeting as part of the judicial process, Berlusconi’s Go Italy (Forza Italia) party said it was the latest in “a chain of attacks” against him.

“The judge has gone beyond the limits of the sentence,” said MP Mariastella Gelmini in a statement on the party’s website.

Gelmini said refusing to return Berlusconi’s passport breaches his right as an EU citizen to move freely between countries that are part of Europe’s Schengen Area.

Northern League (Lega Nord) MP Carolina Lussana also threw her support behind Berlusconi. “The magistrates that deny his passport meanwhile grant permission to a dangerous serial killer that escapes! Shame!!” she said on Twitter, referring to murderer Bartolomeo Gagliano who went on the run yesterday after being granted temporary leave from prison in Genoa.

Berlusconi has long-since denied that he will flee Italy following his August conviction, after suggestions he would follow in the footsteps of fellow former prime minister Bettino Craxi. After being put under investigation for corruption in the 1990s, Craxi fled to Tunisia and was convicted in absentia.

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