Italian Senate Panel to Decide Berlusconi’s Fate
Rome – A cross-party panel of the Italian Senate has gathered to decide whether to expel Silvio Berlusconi over his conviction for tax fraud. The former prime minister, who dominated the country’s politics for nearly two decades, is expected to lose his seat in the Senate. He threatened to topple the coalition government over the issue but backed down during a confidence vote.
If the panel votes against him, a full vote will be held in the Senate itself. The media tycoon was convicted of tax fraud in October 2012 over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films. The sentence was upheld in August. The threat to Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s fragile coalition alarmed political leaders and markets alike in the eurozone, where Italy has the third-biggest economy and is struggling to address a huge national debt.
Berlusconi stayed away when the panel held its first deliberations on Friday morning. The panel later retired to consider its vote behind closed doors. One member, Benedetto della Vedova, said many of the arguments had been discussed previously. “No, there is no result yet,” he said. “For the moment, in the notes presented by Berlusconi, there are no new arguments in regards to what we’ve seen before, but something new could happen today.” (BBC)