Rome, Oct 4 (IANS/AKI) A cross-party panel of Italy’s upper house of parliament Friday approved ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s ejection from the upper house of parliament for tax fraud, paving the way for a full Senate vote by Oct 14 to confirm the decision.
The president of the Senate’s immunity and elections committee, Dario Stefano, said there been “a sincere exchange of differing ideas” by the panel’s 23 members over 77-year-old Berlusconi’s expulsion.
His probable removal from the Senate follows his binding conviction for tax fraud by Italy’s top appeals court in August and is sanctioned by a 2012 anti-corruption law that was backed by his own party.
The committee held a short public session to discuss the latest legal and procedural issues, before gathering in a long closed-door meeting.
Neither Berlusconi attend it, nor did his lawyers Franco Coppi, Piero Longo and Niccolo Ghedini.
Berlusconi dismissed the panel as biased against him.
The Aug 1 verdict from Italy’s Court of Cassation upheld a one-year prison sentence against the billionaire media magnate for fraudulent offshore accounting by his family’s media company, Mediaset.
A five-year ban on Berlusconi from holding office ordered by a lower court will be re-assessed by a district court in Milan Oct 19, as ordered by the Court of Cassation. The sentence is expected to be cut to between one and three years.
Of the 315 senators who make up the Senate, fewer than a third are from Berlusconi’s conservative People of Freedom (PdL) party.
Berlusconi had threatened to topple the coalition government over his likely expulsion from the Senate but backed down during a confidence vote on Wednesday that observers say has left him a weakened political figure.
He will have to serve a one-year sentence for his tax conviction, probably under house arrest or via community service because of his age.
He has been convicted of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and of a breach of confidentiality over a police wiretap, sentences that he is appealing.