Lunedì, 22 Ottobre 2018

Berlusconi's party slams magistrates


(By Kate Carlisle)
Rome, July 18 - The centre-right People of Freedom
(PdL) party released an elaborate document on Thursday accusing
Milan judges of partisan bias in their tax-fraud ruling against
their leader, three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Berlusconi's four-year term for inflating film-rights
purchases at his Mediaset media empire was upheld by an appeals
court in May, and the supreme Cassation Court will hear his
appeal on July 30.
It also includes a five-year ban from public office for the
ex-premier that would kick in if parliament ratifies it.
In a statement, the PdL said the series of trials was based
on "an accusation so absurd and laughable that, in the presence
of judges who are not totally compromised and non-partisan, (the
trials) would be over before they begin, with a great savings of
time for the judiciary and money for taxpayers".
In its estimate, the PdL said his Mediaset trials have cost
the State 20 million euros, "with the sole purpose of condemning
an ideological and political enemy, Silvio Berlusconi".
Berlusconi and his supporters have repeatedly accused
Italian judges of "political persecution," prompting implicit
rebuke from the judiciary's self-governing body and its titular
head Giorgio Napolitano, the Italian president.
In May Italy's supreme Court of Cassation said that claims
of bias by Milan judges made by Berlusconi were "defamatory
accusations" after rejecting the media magnate's petition for a
sex trial and for the appeal against the four-year conviction
for fraud to be transferred to Brescia.
Following the July 10 decision by the Cassation to set the
date it will hear the Mediaset case for the end of the month,
Berlusconi called on Italians to join him in public protests and
sign a referendum for judicial reforms.
"All of Italy needs to join together publicly, all around
the country, to sign the referendum," Berlusconi said.
The PdL has been particularly outraged over the Cassation's
decision to rapidly schedule the appeal date, supposedly
depriving his legal team enough time to prepare.
Berlusconi's defense team have called the move "beyond
The Cassation said it was forced to move on the case or
there was a risk part of the conviction would be timed out under
the statute of limitations, something that has happened a number
of times in the media mogul's previous legal entanglements.
PdL lawmakers have vowed to resign en masse if the verdict
against their leader is upheld in appeals.
Three years of the four-year sentence would not have to be
served because of an amnesty.
Berlusconi would not have to serve the remaining year in
prison if definitively convicted since he is over 70, though he
would have to do social work.
The threats have added tension to an already unstable
coalition government, cobbled together from the center left and
center right after two months of post-election parliamentary
gridlock earlier this year.
The tax-fraud case is the most immediate of Berlusconi's
cases to come to a final conclusion.
He is also appealing a seven-year sentence and life ban for
paying an underage prostitute nicknamed Ruby 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
Berlusconi has always denied any wrongdoing.

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