News / Europe

    Berlusconi Expelled from Italian Senate Over Tax Fraud

    Silvio Berlusconi addresses supporters in Rome, Nov. 27, 2013, after the Italian Senate expelled the three-time ex-premier from parliament over his tax fraud conviction.
    Silvio Berlusconi addresses supporters in Rome, Nov. 27, 2013, after the Italian Senate expelled the three-time ex-premier from parliament over his tax fraud conviction.
    Reuters
    The Italian Senate expelled Silvio Berlusconi over his tax fraud conviction on Wednesday, drawing a defiant response from the veteran center-right leader who vowed to continue leading his party and fight on outside parliament.

    The vote, after months of political wrangling, opens an uncertain new phase in Italian politics, with the 77-year-old media billionaire preparing to use all his extensive resources to attack Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government.

    “We are here on a bitter day, a day of mourning for democracy,” Berlusconi told several thousand supporters from his Forza Italia party in front of his residence in central Rome as the Senate voted only a few hundred yards away.

    Berlusconi, who has dominated politics in Italy for two decades, has already pulled his party out of Letta's coalition after seven months in government, accusing leftwing opponents of mounting a “coup d'etat” to eliminate him.

    Stripped of his parliamentary immunity from arrest, he is more vulnerable in a series of other cases, where he is accused of offenses including political bribery and paying for sex with a minor.

    However he no longer commands enough support in parliament to bring down the government, which easily won a confidence vote on the 2014 budget late on Tuesday with the support of around 30 dissidents who split off from Forza Italia this month.

    Letta declared on Wednesday that his government was now “stronger and more cohesive” after winning the budget vote and said it would press on with its reform program.

    The Senate declared Berlusconi ineligible for parliament after he was convicted of masterminding a complex system of illegally inflated invoices to cut the tax bill for his Mediaset television empire.

    Under a law passed with Berlusconi's support last year, politicians convicted of serious criminal offenses are ineligible for parliament, but his expulsion had to be confirmed by a full vote in the Senate.

    The court sentenced him to four years in jail, commuted to a year likely to be spent performing community service. He was also banned from holding public office for two years, preventing any immediate return to government.

    Both Letta's center-left Democratic Party (PD) and former comedian Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement rejected a series of motions challenging the move.

    Victim

    In a characteristic piece of political theater, Berlusconi addressed a rally of supporters outside his Rome residence as the vote was taking place, underlining that he will remain a troublesome opponent to the government even outside parliament.

    “I'm not going to be retiring to some convent,” he told supporters. “We're staying here!”

    Much like Grillo, who does not sit in parliament but who keeps up a steady stream of attacks in public meetings and on his widely read blog, Berlusconi is almost certain to mount a sustained campaign against the government in the run-up to the European parliamentary elections in May.

    The political battle over Berlusconi has already hampered any serious overhaul of Italy's stagnant economy, which is stuck in a recession that has lasted more than two years, sending youth unemployment over 40 percent.

    The split on the center-right may have removed the immediate threat to Letta, who has won two confidence votes in parliament since Berlusconi's conviction, but the risk of further judicial conflict over any of the other criminal trials and investigations hanging over Berlusconi could inflame his supporters still further.

    Berlusconi joined Letta's Democratic Party in an unlikely coalition after the February election left no side able to form a government on its own.

    But relations were rocky from the start and were worsened by rows over tax policy and tensions over Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction in August.S

    You May Like

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora