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Silvio Berlusconi and Political Assassinations


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Silvio Berlusconi is the Italian version of Rupert Murdoch. Leader of the right wing Forza Italia party, he has used his media empire to become Prime Minister of Italy (1994-1995, 2001-2006 and since 2008).

Berlusconi has an extensive record of indictments, as various criminal charges have been made against him and his companies over the years, including mafia collusion, false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges. Some of Berlusconi's close collaborators, friends and firm managers have been found guilty of related crimes. Berlusconi has never been convicted in any trial. The Italian legal system allows the statute of limitations to continue to run during the course of the criminal trial. This enables wealthy crooks like Berlusconi to keep out of prison.

In 1981, a scandal arose after the police discovery of Licio Gelli's secret freemasonry lodge Propaganda Due (P2), which aimed to change the Italian political system to a more authoritarian regime to oppose communism. The list of people involved in P2 included members of the secret services and some prominent characters from political arena, business, military and media. Silvio Berlusconi, who was then just starting to gain popularity as the founder and owner of "Canale 5" TV network, was listed as a member of P2.

Berlusconi later (in 1989) sued three journalists for libel for writing articles hinting at his involvement in financial crimes. In court, he declared that he had joined the P2 lodge "only for a very short time before the scandal broke" and "he had not even paid the entry fee". Evidence later emerged that Berlusconi had been a member of P2 since 1978. A court of appeal condemned him for perjury in 1990, but this conviction was expunged by the 1989 amnesty. Some critics claim that Berlusconi's electoral programme followed the P2 plan.

In 1996, a Mafia supergrass, Salvatore Cancemi, declared that Berlusconi was in direct contact with Salvatore Riina, head of the Sicilian Mafia in the 1980s and 90s. Cancemi claimed that Cosa Nostra supported Berlusconi's Forza Italia party in return for political favours.

Marcello Dell'Utri was convicted of extortion in association with Cosa Nostra in 2004. He was the manager of Berlusconi's publishing company Publitalia 80 and a Forza Italia senator. Dell'Utri was sentenced to nine years by a Palermo court and was accused of being a mediator between the economical interests of Berlusconi and members of the criminal organization.

According to yet another arrested criminal, Antonino Giuffrè, the Mafia turned to Berlusconi's Forza Italia party to look after the Mafia's interests, after the decline in the early 1990s of the ruling party Christian Democracy, whose leaders in Sicily looked after the Mafia's interests in Rome. Giuffrè told the court. "A new era opened with a new political force on the horizon which provided the guarantees that the Christian Democrats were no longer able to deliver. To be clear, that party was Forza Italia."

Berlusconi is still being prosecuted for several crimes including one that involves David Mills, the husband of Tessa Jowell, a close friend of Tony Blair, who appointed her to his cabinet. Mills is accused by Italian prosecutors of money laundering and of accepting a gift from Berlusconi in return for friendly evidence given as a prosecution witness against Berlusconi. Blair was very close to Berlusconi enjoying free holidays paid for by the Italian taxpayers.

One of the main threats to Berlusconi comes from Michele Orsi, the 47 year old boss of a waste disposal firm in Naples. On Thursday he was to give evidence in court against defendants with close links to Berlusconi and the Mafia. Orsi was gunned down and killed in a Naples street on Monday.

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Guest David Guyatt

The article failed to mention that he was a personal friend of Tony Blair, who used to vacation in one of his villas in Tuscany (I think it was?). He was also close to George Bush.

Luvely guy, eh.

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The article failed to mention that he was a personal friend of Tony Blair, who used to vacation in one of his villas in Tuscany (I think it was?). He was also close to George Bush.

Luvely guy, eh.

As if I would do that:

Berlusconi is still being prosecuted for several crimes including one that involves David Mills, the husband of Tessa Jowell, a close friend of Tony Blair, who appointed her to his cabinet. Mills is accused by Italian prosecutors of money laundering and of accepting a gift from Berlusconi in return for friendly evidence given as a prosecution witness against Berlusconi. Blair was very close to Berlusconi enjoying free holidays paid for by the Italian taxpayers.
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Guest David Guyatt
The article failed to mention that he was a personal friend of Tony Blair, who used to vacation in one of his villas in Tuscany (I think it was?). He was also close to George Bush.

Luvely guy, eh.

As if I would do that:

Berlusconi is still being prosecuted for several crimes including one that involves David Mills, the husband of Tessa Jowell, a close friend of Tony Blair, who appointed her to his cabinet. Mills is accused by Italian prosecutors of money laundering and of accepting a gift from Berlusconi in return for friendly evidence given as a prosecution witness against Berlusconi. Blair was very close to Berlusconi enjoying free holidays paid for by the Italian taxpayers.

Whoops.

Confucius says: too much red wine degrades speed reading.... <_<

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Guest David Guyatt

Mind you, sacrificing multiple brain cells in a grand vin kamikaze attack is sometimes a worthy cause wher a fine wine is concerned:

65681.jpg

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  • 4 weeks later...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jun/28/italy1

Silvio Berlusconi is on course to end his problems with Italy's courts after his cabinet launched a bill yesterday giving him immunity from prosecution while he remains in office.

The Italian prime minister's majorities in both houses of parliament are likely to ensure the bill becomes law, suspending his trial in Milan for allegedly paying a bribe to British lawyer David Mills in return for favourable evidence in previous trials. Both men deny wrongdoing.

Berlusconi, 71, has been involved in 1,000 hearings in 17 different trials in Italy, according to his lawyer Nicolo Ghedini, who helped frame the bill. The media mogul has hitherto been acquitted or benefited from the statute of limitations. He claims he is persecuted by politicised magistrates, whom he described this week as "a cancerous growth".

The bill, which suspends the statute of limitations while ongoing trials are blocked, is a rewording of a law passed by Berlusconi's previous government in 2003 which was deemed unconstitutional by Italy's constitutional court and thrown out. The measure will also halt any trials faced by the Italian president and the speakers of the two houses of parliament.

"If [berlusconi] wanted to take care of his own interests, he would defend himself by taking part in all the hearings," said Angelino Alfano, Italy's justice minister. "But in that case he would be distracted from government activity, so he would render a good service to himself and a bad one to the country."

Antonio Di Pietro, head of the opposition Italy of Values party, warned the bill would usher in a "sweet dictatorship" and said he would push for a referendum on the matter.

The Mills trial was set to be halted thanks to an amendment, slipped this week into a decree combating crime, which suspends for one year all trials for alleged crimes committed before June 2002, including the suspected bribe.

But Berlusconi fought off accusations that he would benefit personally from the measure by announcing that he would specifically ask for the ruling not to be applied to his trial with Mills, the estranged husband of Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister.

The bill announced yesterday will instead give Berlusconi the rest of his term in office free from court appearances.

The bill could also save him from a second legal wrangle in Naples, where magistrates suspect he sought to get jobs for women actors at the state TV network Rai last year. Investigators believe the women were linked to Italian politicians Berlusconi was seeking to turn against Romano Prodi, then prime minister.

On Thursday, one day before the immunity bill was launched, Italian magazine L'espresso published transcripts of wiretaps obtained from the investigation in which Berlusconi discusses the actors with Rai's manager. The conversations could be heard on the magazine's website yesterday.

Berlusconi has already launched a bill banning the use of wiretaps in any cases involving crimes punishable by sentences shorter than 10 years, or five years in the case of crimes against the state. But journalists publishing leaked transcripts would be given jail sentences.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Interesting article on the corruption of Silvio Berlusconi:

It was September 30 2003. A young intelligence office, Federico Armati was renting a house that looks on to Campo de' Fiori, a bar-packed square in old Rome. He lived alone, and his private life was not perhaps all that it could be. His wife, a rising young TV announcer whom he had married five years earlier, had split from him. But he had a steady job in SISDE - Italy's equivalent of MI5 - and his separation had been amicable. So much so that his wife, Virginia Sanjust di Teulada, and their son were staying with him at the time.

Still, he was somewhat bemused when a huge bunch of flowers arrived at the door - particularly when he realised they were from the prime minister.

The night before, Sanjust di Teulada had introduced a prime-time slot in which Silvio Berlusconi - then, as now, Italy's prime minister - had set out plans for pension reform. The way Berlusconi's lawyer tells it, the flowers were an innocent way of congratulating someone who was, anyhow, the granddaughter of a personal friend.

But, as a court in Rome heard last week, Armati has a different view. He sees it as the point at which his fortunes began to go into an uncontrollable tailspin. And he blames his downfall on Berlusconi, who he claims formed a relationship with his estranged wife. He is now seeking to have Berlusconi put on trial for abusing his position, which is a criminal offence in Italy.

You can find the rest of the article here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/jul/10/italy.television

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  • 7 months later...

John Hooper and Allegra Stratton The Guardian, Wednesday 18 February 2009

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/fe...coni-bribe-case

Tessa Jowell, the Olympics minister, defended her estranged husband, David Mills, yesterday as he was sentenced to four and a half years in an Italian jail for taking a $600,000 (£400,000) bribe as a reward for withholding court testimony to help Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi.

The conviction, which Mills said he would appeal against, ends a three-year trial that nearly derailed the ministerial career of one of Tony Blair's allies.

Jowell, who was culture secretary at the time, admitted signing a document crucial to the receipt of what the court in Milan yesterday ruled was a bribe. She asserted her innocence by separating from her husband after the allegations emerged.

Yesterday the Tories said they would not be making party political capital out of the conviction of the tax lawyer. In a statement yesterday, Jowell stood by Mills, saying: "This is a terrible blow to David and, although we are separated, I have never doubted his innocence."

Mills, 64, was not present in court when the judge, Nicoletta Gandus, read out her verdict, but said in a statement that he was very disappointed by the verdict and would appeal against it. "I am innocent, but this is a highly political case," he said. "I am hopeful that the verdict and sentence will be set aside on appeal, and am told that I will have excellent grounds."

Gandus said Mills would have to pay €250,000 (£220,000) in damages for the perversion of justice caused by his distorted evidence given at two trials in which Berlusconi was a defendant. She also ordered Mills to pay a further €25,000 in costs. Mills's lawyer, Federico Cecconi, told reporters afterwards: "This is a verdict based on a prosecution case that was anything but consolidated. It contravenes the logic and dynamics of the trial."

Berlusconi, indicted alongside Mills, who acted as his legal adviser on offshore dealings, is no longer a defendant. His government passed a law last year giving the prime minister and other top Italian officials immunity from prosecution.

It is thought to be the first time in Italy that someone has been found guilty of taking a bribe without the giver of the money being identified. Gandus's reasons for her verdict will be released in writing at a later date.

Mills is entitled under Italian law to two appeals and the crucial issue now is whether they can be heard before the offence, of which he has been convicted, becomes "timed out" in February next year by a statute of limitations. The prosecutor, Fabio de Pasquale, said: "It is possible, if they get a move on." The fact that Mills failed to appear at his trial was criticised by the judge.

Mills initially admitted having accepted what he had considered a gift or loan. But subsequently he retracted his statement, leaving the prosecution with the formidable task of trying to establish how the money had reached him through a chain of offshore trusts and hedge funds.

In 2000, Jowell and her husband took out a loan, securing it on their terraced house in Kentish Town, north London, and investing the proceeds in a hedge fund. The following month, the loan was repaid with the $600,000 that has been at the centre of the trial.

After the transaction came to light, Jowell said she only became aware four years later, in August 2004, that her husband had received money he "had reasonable grounds to believe was a gift". Tony Blair accepted her assurance.

The issue of Berlusconi's immunity is now being considered by Italy's constitutional court.

The Italian government recently secured Berlusconi's position further with a clause inserted in a bill to reform the judiciary. If approved by parliament, it will mean that, even if such immunity were lifted, the judge presiding over the case that ended yesterday would not be able to apply its outcome automatically to Berlusconi. She would be obliged to begin proceedings all over again.

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