House arrest, election ban: Berlusconi ruling in detail

AFP , Friday 2 Aug 2013

That could take weeks or even months, although the Senate committee head charged with coordinating that vote said it would take only a month

In this frame grab from an handout pre-recorded video message, broadcast by Mediaset TGCOM24, Italian media mogul Silvio Berlusconi comments on the Italian highest court sentence that confirmed for him a four-year term for tax fraud, Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013 (Photo: AP)

Silvio Berlusconi's definitive conviction opens the way for 12 months of house arrest or community service, as well as sanctions including a ban on running for office for the next six years.

The situation is unprecedented but the rules will be the same as for ordinary criminals, Italian media reported.

The key exception is that Berlusconi, 76, enjoys immunity from the sentence until the Senate votes to take it away.

That could take weeks or even months, although the Senate committee head charged with coordinating that vote said it would take only a month.

Here are details of the sentence and a possible timeline:

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Berlusconi will have to make a specific request to do community service in order to avoid house arrest. Taking account of the summer break in the judicial system, this request will have to be filed by October 16.

He has said he does not want to do community service "like a common criminal" and would therefore most likely be placed under conditions of house arrest -- probably at his main residence near Milan.

There is no chance the 76-year-old billionaire tycoon will have to go to actual prison because of lenient rules for over-70s in Italy with short prison sentences, unless he attempts to escape house arrest.

NO ELECTIONS: Berlusconi cannot be a candidate for the next six years under a law passed in 2012 with votes from his own centre-right coalition, meaning he is virtually certain to be barred from the next elections whenever they are.

This could prove an added incentive to keep the government in place and not trigger fresh elections by withdrawing his centre-right coalition's support.

The next elections are set for 2016, although analysts predict the uneasy coalition between centre-right and centre-left could collapse well before then.

OUT OF SENATE?: The three-time prime minister could be forced to leave parliament even before then -- for the first time since 1994 -- if his opponents push for the Senate to apply rules against convicted lawmakers.

PARLIAMENT BAN: The supreme court on Thursday also ordered the appeal courts to decide whether Berlusconi should be temporarily barred from holding public office. He was sentenced to a five-year ban on his first appeal, although this could be lowered on appeal.

PASSPORT: The globe-trotting media mogul will have to hand over his passport to the police and the foreign ministry is likely to request that he also return the diplomatic papers he has as a former prime minister.

He will have to obtain the court's permission for an exemption if he wants to travel abroad.

SANCTIONS: The precise conditions of the sentence are to be determined but may mean he needs court authorisation to be excused from house arrest or community service in order to attend sessions of parliament and even to give media interviews.

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