Italian former PM Berlusconi sentenced for tax fraud
An Italian court sentenced former ex Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to four years in jail for tax fraud, but later cut it to one year because of an amnesty law.
Berlusconi’s tax fraud case stems from the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company. Berlusconi said in response that the conviction was unreal and politicized.
The former prime minister has been tried numerous times for his business dealings. He has always been cleared or seen the statute of limitations expire. For more details, Andrew Dupuis has the story.
After being found guilty of tax fraud, former Italian ex Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been handed a jail sentence. Along with the sentence is a bar from office.
The Milan court sentenced him to four years but later cut it to one year because of the amnesty law aimed at reducing prison overcrowding.
The court also sentenced Berlusconi and 10 co-defendants to pay 10 million Euros to Italian tax authorities.
Berlusconi condemned the conviction as “unreal.” He said it was the result of “politicized” judges who have made Italy unlivable and no longer a democracy.
But it is not the final result. Berlusconi still has the right to appeal the ruling two more times before a definite sentence. And he will not have to serve any time in jail until his final appeal is heard. He and others were accused of buying US film rights at inflated prices via two offshore companies under his control.
It is the first time Berlusconi, who has faced a number of trials, has been convicted of crime concerning his business activities. In the past, he has either been cleared, or cases have run beyond the judicial time limit.
Early in 1997, he received a suspended sentence for false book-keeping but that conviction was reversed on appeal.
In the case for which he was sentenced on Friday, prosecutors argued that part of the money declared for the purchase of film rights was skimmed off to create illegal slush funds, reducing tax liabilities for his Mediaset group.