Saturday 24 March 2018

I won't flee Italy if I'm convicted – Berlusconi

Berlusconi: final appeal
Berlusconi: final appeal

John Morris Rome

FORMER Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would not flee Italy and would go to jail rather than face house arrest or community service if a court upholds his conviction for tax fraud next week.

Italy's highest appeals court will, tomorrow, hear Mr Berlusconi's final appeal against a four-year prison sentence and a ban from public office for tax fraud over the purchase of broadcasting rights by his TV network Mediaset.

He told 'Libero', a newspaper which supports him, that he would not become a fugitive like the late Bettino Craxi, a former prime minister who fled to Tunisia to escape a jail sentence for corruption.

"I will not go into exile, like Bettino Craxi was forced to. I will also not accept being handed over to social services, like a criminal that has to be re-educated," he said in comments published yesterday.

If the Court of Cassation rejects Mr Berlusconi's appeal, he could serve only one year of his sentence due to a 2006 amnesty law and, at the age of 76, he would likely be granted house arrest, but he challenged judges to put him behind bars.

"If they convict me – if they assume that responsibility – then I'll go to jail," he said.

Irish Independent

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