Giovedì, 20 Settembre 2018
MILAN

Judges say Berlusconi involved in fraud even when premier

English
© ANSA

Milan, May 23 - Milan judges said Silvio Berlusconi
was involved in fraud at his media empire even during his time
as premier in the explanation of their decision to uphold a
four-year conviction, which was released Thursday.
Earlier this month Milan's appeals court rejected
Berlusconi's request for the conviction for tax fraud in
relation to deals for TV rights bought by his Mediaset network
to be overturned.
The explanation said the 76-year-old three-time premier
was involved in the fraudulent system "for many years" and
"continued despite the public roles assumed. He conducted it in
the highest possible positions".
It added that there was oral and written evidence that
Berlusconi "directly managed" the first stages of an "enormous
tax evasion" scam using offshore companies.
Berlusconi is set to appeal against the ruling, which also
bars him from holding public office for five years, to the
supreme Court of Cassation.
In Italy sentences for non-violent crimes do not
usually become effective until the two-tier appeals system has
been exhausted.
Due to a 2006 amnesty law, the media magnate who came
second in February's general election and whose party occupies
key positions in the current left-right government, will not
have to serve three of the four years of his jail sentence if
the ruling is upheld on appeal.
Berlusconi has maintained throughout the trial that he was
not involved in any of the suspicious film-rights trades as he
was busy working in politics.
But judges at the first trial ruled in October that he
indeed "remained at the top of the management" and "there was no
other person" capable of managing the fraudulent deals.
This was reiterated by the explanation released on
Thursday.
"It was absolutely obvious that the question of
(broadcasting) rights, the group's main cost, was a strategic
question and therefore was of interest to the owner, to an owner
who remained interested and involved in management decisions,
while abandoning the day-to-day operations," read the
explanation.
The ex-premier is also on trial for allegedly paying for
sex with an underage prostitute and allegedly abusing his power
in a bid to cover up the affair. Prosecutors have requested he
be sent to prison for six years in this case.
He is also appealing a one-year term for involvement in the
publishing an illegal wiretap and facing indictment for
allegedly buying a Senator to help topple a centre-left
government.
In the ongoing and several other previous trials,
Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the
victim of a minority group of allegedly left-wing prosecutors
and judges who he says are persecuting him for political
reasons.

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