Mercoledì, 24 Ottobre 2018

Berlusconi recommits to govt, confident of acquittal


(By Emily Backus and Denis Greenan).
Rome, July 12 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi on
Friday reiterated his backing for Premier Enrico Letta's
left-right government, where he is the junior partner, and said
his legal woes would not hurt its efforts to complete an
ambitious reform programme.
Berlusconi said his party's support for the right-left
coalition government should not depend on the outcome of his
judicial proceedings, that his party's lawmakers should focus on
the country's interests, and that he was confident he would be
acquitted in the final appeal of his tax-fraud conviction.
''They are different things - also serious - but in this
moment, I don't believe one should do anything as a result from
(the tax fraud appeals case) that could have influence on the
government,'' Berlusconi told public broadcaster RAI3's morning
talk show Agora.
Berlusconi's People of Freedom Party (PdL) has been veering
between support the unprecedented left-right government and
threats to down it after the supreme court brought forward to
July 30 the final appeal in the tax-fraud conviction, which
sentenced Berlusconi to four years in prison - lowered to one
because of an intervening amnesty - and banned him from public
office for five years.
What is needed, the three-time premier said, was ''loyal
support for this government'' and measures that create
''incentives for consumption and thus production'' for economic
Asked about what he is telling his party's lawmakers should
his sentence for tax fraud be upheld, Berlusconi said, ''The
input I am giving (them) is to concentrate on the interests of
the country''.
''I am serene because I never knew about that stuff,''
Berlusconi added, referring to alleged film-rights manipulation
at Mediaset to avoid taxes.
''Reading the documentation, I don't believe that there can
be anything but my full acquittal,'' Berlusconi said.
Asked what he planned to do in case the conviction is
upheld, Berlusconi said, ''I don't usually exercise my mind on
facts that I believe unlikely''.
If convicted, Berlusconi would not go to prison because of
his age.
Instead, he would be requited to do social work like a
former co-imputee in a judge-bribing case, lawyer and friend
Cesare Previti, who helped former drug addicts find their way
back into work and society.
As for the ban, it would have to be ratified by a special
committee in the Senate, where Berlusconi sits.
Until now such confirmations have been virtually automatic
but there is speculation that the centre-left Democratic Party
(PD) might split and vote against kicking the media magnate out
of politics.
The PD has been working with the PdL since President Giorgio
Napolitano midwifed their unnatural alliance to end two months
of stalemate after February's inconclusive general election.
The tax-fraud case is the most immediate of Berlusconi's
cases to come to a final conclusion.
He is also appealing a six-year sentence and life ban for
paying an underage prostitute for sex and a one-year term for
involvement in the publication of a wiretap that hurt a
political rival, while he may face trial for allegedly buying
Senators to bring down a previous centre-left government.
Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing and claims he is the
victim of politically motivated magistrates.
The PdL is planning a series of protests against the
judiciary across Italy later this month.
The PD and PdL have vowed to keep working to implement a
range of much-needed reforms including a new electoral law to
prevent a repeat of February's three-way tie.
They also aim to revive Italy's economy amid the longest
recession in over 20 years and create jobs amid record
Abolishing an unpopular property tax called IMU -
Berlusconi's key election pledge - is still dividing the
partners as it is unclear how to do it without breaking
EU-mandated budget restrictions.

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