Former PM Silvio Berlusconi expelled from Italian parliament : worldleaks
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi expelled from Italian parliament over his tax fraud conviction, ending, for now, his two-decade legislative run but not his political career.
Berlusconi has warned that the new move would embarrass Italy internationally. He kept his defiance as the Senate voted, declaring on Wednesday a “day of mourning for democracy” before thousands of cheering, flag-waving supporters outside his Roman palazzo.
Even though Berlusconi won’t hold a seat in Parliament, he is required to remain influential in Italian politics. He has relaunched his Forza Italia party and he still commands millions of loyal supporters.
While his lawyers chart possible legal challenges and his allies move into Italy’s opposition, Berlusconi’s fans massed in front of his Roman palazzo for a rally that analysts said was essentially the start of Italy’s next electoral campaign.
“Today they are toasting because they can take an adversary, they say a friend, in front of the executioner’s squad,” Berlusconi said. “It is the day they have been waiting for for 20 years.”
He pledged to continue his role as a political leader, mentioning other figures not in Parliament, namely the founder of the Five Star Movement, Beppe Grillo, and Matteo Renzi of the Democratic Party, tipped by many as a future premier candidate.
“Also, from outside the Parliament, we can continue to fight for our liberty,” he said.
Supporters were handled to a video montage of Berlusconi’s greatest political hits from a career that began in 1994 when he first came into power with a political party named for a soccer chant “Go Italy.” He said that even if he’s no longer a senator, he will continue to be a force to reckon with.
“For us he will always be there,” said Marilda Antonello as she held a banner reading “The law is not equal for everyone. Sick justice.”
“He is our only leader. He is the only man who can take Italy forward,” she said.
The Senate vote on whether to remove Berlusconi from the chamber stems from a 2012 law that bans anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison from holding or running for public office for six years. His lawyers claim the law is unconstitutional and have questioned why the rush to expel him while legal challenges are still pending.
The prison term was reduced automatically to one year under a general amnesty; he will serve his time either under house arrest or through public service.
Berlusconi takes he didn’t receive a fair trial and that the judges were biased and out to “eliminate” him from public office. His lawyers have also charged that the 2012 law is unconstitutional and can’t be applied retroactively to crimes allegedly committed before it was passed.
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