Mercoledì, 26 Settembre 2018
MILAN

Berlusconi colluded in wiretap publication, says court

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Milan, June 4 - Silvio Berlusconi had a decisive
role in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap in his
brother Paolo's conservative newspaper Il Giornale, according to
a Milan court's explanation of its decision to hand the
ex-premier a one-year jail term in relation to the case.
The wiretap concerned a conversation in 2005 between one
of Berlusconi's political opponents, Piero Fassino, the then
head of the former centre-left Democratic Left (DS) party, and
Giovanni Consorte, the former chairman of Unipol, an association
of insurers historically linked to the DS, the heir to Italy's
Communist Party.
At the time Unipol came close to taking over one of
Italy's leading banks, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), and
Fassino was recorded as saying "we have a bank!".
Fassino, now mayor of Turin, was widely criticised for the
comment, especially among the rank and file of the DS, which has
since turned into a larger centre-left group, the Democratic
Party.
The Milan court's explanation, which was released Tuesday,
of its March ruling said that without Berlusconi's "support in
terms of moral complicity... the publication would not have
taken place".
It added that centre-right leader Berlusconi had clear
political motives to give a green light to the publication late
in 2005, months before the 2006 general election that his
alliance narrowly lost to Romano Prodi's centre left.
"The period of the publication should be considered, (it
was) four months from the elections and in the middle of the
Christmas holidays, a period with low amounts of important
political news," the explanation said.
"So the political interest of the wiretaps was evident, as
was the desire to give the prominence".
The court also sentenced Paolo Berlusconi to two years,
three months in jail and ordered the brothers to pay 80,000
euros in damages to Fassino.
In Italy prison sentences for non-violent crimes do not
usually become effective until the two-tier appeals system has
been exhausted.
Berlusconi's lawyers, Niccolo' Ghedini and Piero Longo,
said the explanation was bereft of any "legal logic".
Before being indicted, Berlusconi told a Milan court that
he had never heard the wiretap, adding "otherwise I would have
remembered".
Prosecutors said Paolo Berlusconi was allowed to hear the
tape, before it was even logged in as evidence, by Roberto
Raffaelli, the head of the firm Research Control System (RCS)
which had been contracted by criminal investigators to make the
wiretap.
They said that several weeks later Raffaelli and a
businessman friend, Fabrizio Favata, went to Berlusconi's
private mansion in Arcore, outside Milan, and played it for the
premier and, again, his brother before handing over a copy.
A transcript of the Fassino-Consorte conversation was
published several days later in Il Giornale.
The court's explanation said claims that Berlusconi fell
asleep while the recording was played at Arcore was not
credible.
Berlusconi is also on trial in Milan for allegedly paying
for sex with an underage prostitute and for allegedly abusing
his office to try to hush up the affair. Prosecutors have
requested a six-year prison term and a verdict is expected on
June 24.
The ex-premier is appealing against a four-year conviction
for fraud at his media empire too.
He also faces indictment for allegedly buying a Senator to
help topple a Prodi's 2006-08 government.
In his current and 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.
Members of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party
rallied to his defence, saying the explanation was an example of
the judicial persecution the three-time premier allegedly
suffers.
PdL MP and former education minister Mariastella Gelmini
said the sentence and the explanation were "paradoxical" given
that Berlusconi has been badly hit by the publication of
wiretaps in a series of sex scandals.
"Even to the eyes of someone who is not a lawyer, the
absurdity of the arguments contained in the explanation of the
sentence is clear," added Gelmini.
"There is no logic in saying that, as Berlusconi is the
leader of the PdL, he must have given the authorization for the
publication of the telephone call, as the judges maintain... to
convict a person you need proof, not suppositions.
"But for a long time this has not been the path taken by a
minority in the judiciary who tear up everything, including the
law, to weaken their political enemy, without succeeding".

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