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Italy: Prison Term Pronounced for Berlusconi

(Mar. 12, 2013) <?Italy's former Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, was sentenced on March 6, 2013, to one year in prison by a court in Milan. The sentence was for releasing the transcript police files on a private wiretap to a media website owned by his brother,Paolo Berlusconi., who himself received a two-year sentence. The 2005 release was of a conversation between the head of Unipol Financial Group, an Italian company, and a political rival of Belusconi, Piero Fassino. The publication of the private conversation has been considered a move to discredit Fassino. (Brandon Gatto, Berlusconi Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Releasing Private Wiretaps, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Mar. 6, 2013); Laura Bonadies & Manuela Mesco, Berlusconi Given One-Year Sentence, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (last visited Mar. 11, 2012.)

Silvio Berlusconi will not have to actually serve time in prison while he pursues appeals; furthermore the statue of limitations will come into play by September 15, likely well before the appeals process would be exhausted. Both Belusconis deny having done anything improper and attribute the prosecution to political motives. Fassino was awarded damages in the amount of €80,000 (about US$104,000). (Id.)

Coincidently on March 6, Italy’s Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling that found Berlusconi not guilty of tax fraud in one case. He remains a defendant in cases involving allegations that he paid a 17-year-old for sex and interfered in her detention on suspicion of theft. (Gatto, supra.)

The former Prime Minister is appealing another tax fraud judgment, which was related to acquisition of the right to broadcast a program in Italy. The prosecutor in that case had asked for a four-year sentence for Berlusconi, in addition to a five-year ban from public office and a three-year ban from holding a position in a company. (Bonadies & Mesco, supra.)