Mercoledì, 26 Settembre 2018

Letta sees no 'earthquakes' over Berlusconi ruling


(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, July 29 - Premier Enrico Letta said Monday he
was not worried about his left-right government collapsing ahead
of the supreme Court of Cassation's ruling on a four-year prison
sentence against ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi.
If the Cassation, which is set to hold a hearing on the
tax-fraud case Tuesday, upholds the verdict, the prison term and
a five-year ban from holding public office will become
Some lawmakers for Berlusconi's centre-right People of
Freedom (PdL) party have threatened it will pull its backing and
sink the government unless the sentence is overturned, saying
their leader is the victim a persecution by left-wing
magistrates targeting him for political reasons.
There is also speculation Letta's own centre-left
Democratic Party (PD) could pull out as many elements within
would be unhappy about governing with an alliance partner led by
a figure with a definitive criminal conviction to his name.
Three-time premier Berlusconi, meanwhile, has said his
legal problems and the government are separate issues.
And Letta also seems confident his fragile administration,
which took power in April after two months of deadlock following
February's inconclusive general election, will survive no matter
what the Cassation decides.
"I don't think there will be the earthquakes evoked by
those who, evidently, want earthquakes," Letta, whose government
is also threatened by policy differences between the PD and the
PdL, said during a visit to Greece.
"I'm convinced that the situation is much more stable than
it is being presented as... I'm absolutely relaxed and serene.
"I've planned the work for next year and I'm convinced that
stability will be confirmed".
The PdL managed to halt parliamentary business for a day
after the Cassation said it would hear the fraud case on July
30, rather than later this year as had been expected.
The court said this was necessary to stop part of the
accusations against Berlusconi being timed out by the statute of
limitations next month.
The four-year conviction regards a system of inflated
film-rights purchases at Berlusconi's Mediaset media empire and
the use of offshore companies to create slush funds and dodge
Berlusconi says he had nothing to do with these dealings or
authorising them as he was too occupied with political matters.
Because of a 2006 amnesty law, three of the four years of
the sentence will not be effective, if the sentence is
As he is over 70, he would probably not serve the year in
prison if definitively convicted, but be given social work or
house arrest as punishment.
However the five-year ban would kick in if, as usually
happens, parliament ratifies it, in which case Berlusconi would
have to step down as Senator.
The Cassation may uphold the sentence, overturn it, order a
retrial or delay proceedings, if this is requested by
Berlusconi's defence team.
Berlusconi has faced many criminal cases since becoming a
politician, but he has never received a definitive conviction at
the end of the appeals process. Several were timed out.
Berlusconi is also appealing against a seven-year sentence
and a life ban from office 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.
He may also face trial for allegedly buying Senators to
bring down a previous centre-left government.

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