Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is no stranger to scandal, and certainly no stranger to being convicted of tax fraud. His latest conviction may have the 77-year-old working with the elderly at a nursing home to complete his one-year sentence, announced a judge earlier this week.
According to the Telegraph, Berlusconi has been convicted of tax fraud again by what Berlusconi describes as a conspiracy propagated by “left-wing judges” who want to prevent him from campaigning for his Forza Italia party during the latest round of parliamentary elections. The Forza Italia party is so closely linked to Berlusconi that his name is on the party logo, and the party’s slogan is “More Italy in Europe, Less Europe in Italy.”
Since Berlusconi is advanced in age and has had numerous health problems, including being hospitalized for a swollen knee during the legal proceedings leading up to conviction, judges will likely allow him to serve a sentence under house arrest, and one judge suggested the possibility of community service. Berlusconi, probation officers stated, has been recommended for a program in which he would work at a nursing home once a week.
The court responsible for sentencing must issue its ruling by April 15, so several days remain before Italians hear whether their former leader will be working at a nursing home or be merely unable to leave his house during the sentence.
Berlusconi’s new sentence puts him newly in the line of fire after escaping what was initially a seven-year sentence for engaging in sexual relations with an underaged girl. That incident also got Berlusconi banned for life from holding office in the Senate; he currently campaigns for his party but cannot present himself as a candidate for any public office. This has not deterred Berlusconi’s political ambitions; he has expressed interest this month in running for a position in the European Parliament. The ban would allow his name on a ballot but he would not be able to be named a victor in an election, even if he has the most votes. Speculation also arose that Berlusconi is preparing one of his daughters for a campaign for public office.
In addition to his current legal woes, Berlusconi also faced charges in February for allegedly attempting to bribe an Italian senator to convince him to switch parties. It appears the Italian judiciary has consolidated Berlusconi’s cases and will now issue a sentence based on the recent tax fraud conviction.