Silvio Berlusconi, arguably the most controversial figure on the Italian political stage, has finally been sentenced to a year in prison as a result of his most recent conviction. His sentence arises out of the publication of a wiretap concerning a conversation between Piero Fassiono and the former chairman of an insurance group. This move would have been significant to Berlusconi, because it would have created major competition to his Finnivest conglomerate.
Many are skeptical of Berlusconi’s sentencing and his ability to serve jail time. His first conviction was in 1997, and a year later he was convicted of corruption and bribery. However, the first sentence was suspended and the second was overturned in 1999 and 2000. Again in 2007 he was accused of corruption, allegedly because he paid a lawyer $600,000 in exchange for favorable testimony. A judge ruled last year that the statute of limitations had passed, and another conviction was thrown out.
Berlusconi is currently appealing a 2012 conviction of tax fraud. He is no stranger to litigation—he was also involved in accusations of sex scandals revolving around reports of involvement with an 18-year old girl in 2009. He was additionally investigated for involvement with a prostituted named “Ruby the Heartbreaker” two years later by magistrates in Milan. The trial on those charges began in 2011, after he resigned from office.
The current case against Berlusconi arises from the transcript of the wiretap which was published by his brother in a newspaper. The conversation was recorded by Italian investigators who are accusing him of additionally bribing an individual to get the recordings. Berlusconi denies the charges. Fassino issued a statemetn on the subject: “This is a ruling that restores truth and justice and confirms the judicial system, despite conscious criticism and mocking of the system for years, in a political campaign to vilify and delegitimize it.”
Berlusconi is currently 76 years old, and has an estimated net worth of $6.2 billion according to Forbes Magazine. Do you think that this conviction will stand? Is the sentence proper under the circumstances? What punishment do you think Berlusconi should be subjected to for all of his indiscretions?
Berlusconi finished second in the lower house voting this election and the litigation is now in litigation to see when it’s going to finish. Welcome to Italian politics. Little to nothing will happen to this man and he will continue living his playboy lifestyle. In spite of all of this, he will still receive many votes from the older Italian generation. I think they’re jealous.
According to BBC News, the tax fraud conviction was Berlusconi’s first, having escaped conviction a number of times. In 1997, he was sentenced for false book-keeping but the conviction was reversed on appeal. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20102215. The guy has luck on his side. He is like many of the “untouchables” in the United States that are just too wealthy and too powerful to be worth prosecuting. Like our very own Mark Cuban who is facing insider trading charges, Berlusconi has enough money to tie up Italy’s court system, exhausting its resources, while preserving his own. The Italian courts have already expended countless resources and efforts to corner Berlusconi, but he manages to come out unscathed most of the time. I predict that the wiretapping conviction will not stand. Under Italian law, Berlusconi will not have to serve jail time until his appeals process has been exhausted. His chances of walking free are looking good: “Judicial sources said the charges will expire in mid-September, before an appeal trial can be completed, because of the statute of limitations. So no matter what happens in the appeal, it is unlikely that Berlusconi would serve time in jail.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/07/us-italy-berlusconi-trial-idUSBRE9260FG20130307.