Berlusconi hospitalized ahead of fraud ruling

Berlusconi hospitalized ahead of fraud ruling
On April 10th, Silvio Berlusconi will find out if he will go under house arrest or do community service for a tax-fraud conviction. Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP
Silvio Berlusconi has been taken to hospital with knee pains, Italian media reported on Friday, ahead of a crucial week in which a court is due to rule whether he will go under house arrest or do community service.

Berlusconi is suffering an inflammation of his left knee and could be let out soon to enjoy his last few days of full freedom, the reports said, adding that the former prime minister was hospitalized in Milan.

A court in Milan will meet on April 10th to decide how the 77-year-old billionaire tycoon will have to serve a one-year prison sentence for tax fraud linked to his business dealings that was handed down last year.

Given his age, Berlusconi will not actually have to go to prison and his spell of house arrest or community service could be reduced to ten and a half months.

His lawyers have made a request for community service with a non-governmental organization, although they have not revealed which one he has opted for.

Both options would restrict his political activities as the three-time premier would not be allowed to lead an election campaign, deliver political addresses and would have to make special requests before giving interviews.

Berlusconi has already had his passport confiscated to stop him from going abroad. He is also banned from parliament and barred from standing in elections for six years under a law to exclude criminals from politics.

The court has until April 15th to deliver its ruling, which will come ahead of European elections in May and as opinion polls show his party, Forza Italia (Go Italy), falling in the polls to around 20 percent.

Berlusconi claims that as the leader of Italy's main centre-right party, he needs political power to be able to push through much-needed reforms and he held talks with President Giorgio Napolitano earlier this week.

Italian media said that he appealed for clemency at the closed-door meeting but failed to get any endorsement.

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