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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Berlusconi slapped with two-year ban from public office

Berlusconi slapped with two-year ban from public officeItalian center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi (Reuters / Tony Gentile)Italian center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi (Reuters / Tony Gentile)

A Milan appeals court on Saturday ruled that Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister with a lifetime of court battles under his belt, should be barred from holding political office for two years following a conviction for tax fraud.
The court was ordered by the Italian Supreme Court to determine the length of the political ban in connection with the media mogul’s tax fraud conviction and four-year jail term, after prosecutors conceded mistakes in the original five-year ban. 
Berlusconi, 77, is already facing the loss of his Senate seat after losing his final appeal in the tax fraud case this summer, under a 2012 law stipulating that anyone convicted to more than two years in prison is forbidden from participating in politics for six years. 
Following a decision by the Senate to vote whether to strip Berlusconi of this Senate seat following his tax fraud conviction, the leader of Forza Italia earlier this month made a desperate bid to bring down the government by threatening to yank his five Cabinet ministers out of government. 
But in a rare swipe at Berlusconi’s authority, supporters aligned themselves with the forces of “stability” instead, voting to support the government of Premier Enrico Letta. 
The flamboyant Italian politician and billionaire tycoon has grabbed headlines in the past not only for his brash political and business style, but for the adventures of his private life as well. 
In June, an Italian court declared Berlusconi guilty both of paying for sex with an underage prostitute - a girl of Moroccan decent nicknamed Ruby Heartstealer - and abusing his office to cover up the relationship. 
Berlusconi, who went far at introducing the term “bunga bunga” into the modern vernacular, was sentenced to seven years for his indiscretion. Yet it is highly unlikely the media mogul and political powerhouse will be forced to trade in his playboy lifestyle for the rigid routine of prison life due to an Italian appeals process that promises to provide sensational fodder for Italian newspapers for many years to come.