Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Right, left heavyweights keep swinging over Berlusconi

English
© ANSA

(By Emily Backus)
Rome, August 20 - Heavyweights of Italy's
centre-right and centre-left continued to wrangle in the Italian
media Tuesday over Silvio Berlusconi's political future, and
whether the three-time premier's first-ever definitive criminal
conviction should mean his removal from parliament and a
six-year ban on holding public office.
In an interview with newspaper La Repubblica published
Tuesday, former Democratic Party (PD) chair Rosy Bindi called on
Berlusconi to resign, which she claimed could open the way to a
presidential pardon for his main penalty.
"Berlusconi should take note of the embarrassment that
threatens parliament and resign (before a scheduled Senate
commission meeting in September to weigh his removal from
office)," said Bindi.
Bindi said the gesture would be "of great political
significance".
"Resigning as parliamentarian would certainly not mean
renouncing leadership of his political formation, but he would
do it as a citizen who respects the law. At that point, I
maintain that even for the head of state it would be more simple
to recognize that political gesture, perhaps with a commutation
of the main penalty," Bindi said.
Meanwhile Italian Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi, a
member of Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party in the
right-left coalition government, blasted the legitimacy of the
Senate vote in an interview with newspaper Il Corriere della
Sera.
"It seems the only objective is a return to slaughtering
the enemy," said Lupi.
"The subject of Berlusconi's political freedom and of the
parliamentary forfeiture is too serious to be dealt with by the
anathemas" of parliament commission members.
Lupi also warned that PdL cabinet ministers could resign if
Berlusconi is cast out of the Upper House.
"We would have to face it seriously. It is is a decision
that we would have to take all together with President
Berlusconi," Lupi said.
Berlusconi risks being stripped of his Senate seat and
banned from public office for six years in a vote in September,
even though a five-year ban on holding public office that came
with the judicial conviction has been sent back to the Milan
appeals court for review.
Early this month, the supreme court upheld a four-year
prison sentence for tax fraud against the media tycoon, three
years of which have been commuted due to an amnesty.
He must decide next month how to spend the one year left,
either performing community service or under house arrest.
A Senate commission has given Berlusconi until August 28 to
prepare a defence to keep his seat in the Upper House.
The commission is set to reconvene September 9 to discuss
turfing the 76-year-old billionaire out of parliament, something
his supporters have repeatedly threatened could trigger the
collapse of the volatile executive.
Italy's defence minister, a moderate, struck a calmer chord
Tuesday, saying he "could not imagine anyone thinking of
toppling the government".
Mario Mauro, with the Civic Choice party, is formerly of
the Berlusconi's PdL.
On Monday, Berlusconi vowed to fight on, defying pressure
to step aside as leader of the center right.
"I'm resisting! I'm not giving up," Berlusconi told
supporters on his Facebook page.

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