Berlusconi 'begs President for pardon'

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Silvio Berlusconi arrives at Rome's Ciampino Airport on March 25th. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
11:42 CEST+02:00
Italy’s beleaguered former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi paid a visit on Wednesday to President Giorgio Napolitano, ostensibly to discuss political reforms but also to ask for a pardon for his criminal convictions, according to media reports.

In an official note, the presidential palace confirmed that the Forza Italia leader had requested the meeting to lay out his party’s political positions at a time when centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is quickly pressing ahead with a broad palette of reforms. 

Renzi struck an unlikely deal with Berlusconi earlier this year that enabled the Prime Minister to push a bill through the lower house in March that would allow a major revamp of the muddled election system.

But in his meeting with Napolitano on Wednesday, Berlusconi also took the opportunity to request a presidential pardon for his criminal convictions, newspaper La Stampa reports, citing parliamentary sources.

Berlusconi told Napolitano he feared for his political freedom ahead of sentencing on April 10th for a tax-fraud conviction, the newspaper said. Judges in Milan are expected either to sentence him to house arrest or to order him to perform community service.

Berlusconi earlier described the idea of him carrying out community service as humiliating both for him and the country.

The President turned down his request for clemency, the newspaper said.

Berlusconi’s tax-fraud conviction led to a two-year ban from holding public office and also prevents the man who dominated Italian politics for two decades from running in elections.

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The media magnate was also banned from office for life for paying for sex from an underage 17-year-old prostitute, a verdict he has appealed.  

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