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Italy Awaits Berlusconi Verdict

posted 30 Jul 2013, 09:45 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 30 Jul 2013, 09:46 ]

 

BVO - Lawyers arrive at Italy's supreme court as it begins hearing former president Silvio Berlusconi's last appeal against a jail sentence and ban from public office for tax fraud in a case which could threaten the survival of the shaky coalition government.
If five top judges hand down the first definitive conviction to the four-times prime minister in dozens of court cases against him, it will mark the end of two decades in which he has dominated politics through his media power and political skill.

It could also plunge the government - an uneasy coalition of Enrico Letta's centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) - into crisis and bring renewed uncertainty to the euro zone third's largest economy, with potential fallout right across the bloc.

Berlusconi's chief lawyer, Franco Coppi, told journalists it was very unlikely the court would reach a decision on Tuesday because of other cases facing the judges.

Experts say it could take as long as Thursday.

The scandal-plagued mogul is also appealing in a lower court against a seven-year jail sentence in June for abuse of office and paying for sex with Moroccan-born nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, alias "Ruby the Heartstealer", when she was underage.


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