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Sun Aug 18, 2013 2:36PM
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

A senior member of Italy’s People of Freedom party says former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, banned from holding public office for complicity in tax fraud, will remain a political leader. Francesco Nitto Palma said earlier this week that Berlusconi "will remain a political leader in every sense of the word.” Referring to a six-month ban from holding office issued earlier this month by Rome’s Court of Cassation with regard to Berlusconi’s tax fraud case relating to the purchase of broadcasting rights by his television network Mediaset, Palma said that “I don't believe being in or out of parliament can keep Berlusconi from exercising leadership.” The Italian Senate is set to decide in September on whether to uphold the ban for the ex-premier. Berlusconi has faced many legal cases in his two decades in politics. Most of the time, he has either been acquitted or the charges have been dismissed when statues of limitations expired. In June, Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years and a lifetime ban from holding public positions for inappropriate relations with an under-age girl and using his influence to cover it up. Previous charges against Berlusconi included Mafia collusion, false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribing police officers and judges. Berlusconi, who served as the country's prime minister from 1994 to 2011, resigned last November after coming under immense pressure to step down for mishandling the Italian economy. MAM/PR
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