Italy's senate panel votes Berlusconi's expulsion

Updated: 2013-10-05 00:03


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Rome - A special Senate's committee voted to strip Silvio Berlusconi of his Parliament seat on Friday, after a conviction for tax fraud.

The panel's decision will need to be confirmed with a full vote of the Senate Assembly in the coming weeks, but it is being interpreted as a further sign of the end of the political career of the centre-right leader and media tycoon, who has dominated Italy's politics for almost 20 years.

The committee - which worked the same as a judiciary body - convened around 9.30 on Friday morning at Palazzo Madama, the Senate palace, and held a short public session to discuss the latest legal and procedural issues, before gathering in a long closed-door meeting.

As expected Berlusconi didn't attend, nor did his lawyers Franco Coppi, Piero Longo and Niccolo Ghedini. They had announced that they would not appear before the committee, because they considered it 'not impartial'. "Many members of this panel have already publicly expressed their position in favor of Mr. Berlusconi's ejection and that makes it useless for us to intervene in defense of our client" they said in a statement on Friday morning.

"The expulsion of Mr. Berlusconi from Parliament is only a matter of law's implementation, not a political issue" the lawyer for the counterpart Ulisse Di Giacomo replied during the committee's hearing.

The committee's verdict was announced shortly after 4.30 p.m. on Friday.

Berlusconi had repeated that he was victim of a political verdict: "My conviction for tax fraud was the result of a well designed political campaign aimed to ouster me as centre-right leader. But I am sure I will get justice from the European Union Court, to which we have already appealed," he declared to local media on Thursday night.

On August 1st Berlusconi was given a conviction for tax fraud from the Italian Supreme Court and sentenced to four years of prison, automatically reduced to one year under a 2006 pardon act. He was also declared banned from holding public office.

After dozens of trials in almost 20 years of political career, it was the first definitive conviction and made him formally ineligible for Parliament in force of a 2012 anti-corruption law.