September 9, 2013 - 14:12 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - A parliamentary committee is debating whether flamboyant former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi should be stripped of his Senate seat following his definitive conviction for tax fraud, The Associated Press reports.
Berlusconi has threatened to bring down Premier Enrico Letta’s unusual left-right government if the Senate committee votes to kick him out of parliament. His People of Freedom party is a crucial part of the government.
Italy’s highest criminal court upheld Berlusconi’s tax fraud conviction, four-year prison term and ban from public office last month. The Senate’s deliberation’s aren’t based on that sentence but rather on a 2012 law that says anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison is ineligible to hold public office for six years.
The committee’s deliberations are expected to extend beyond Monday’s session.
Berlusconi, who, at 76, has dominated Italian politics for 20 years, remained defiant, if shaken. In a nine-minute video address, he denounced the sentence "absolutely" baseless, saying it "deprives me of my freedom and political rights," and insisted he is the innocent victim of "an incredible series of accusations and trials that had nothing to do with reality," according to CBS News.
The tax fraud decision does not end Berlusconi's judicial woes. He was convicted in June of paying for sex with an under-age teen and then forcing public officials to cover it up. The court sentenced him to seven years in jail and a lifetime ban on public office, a ruling he is appealing.
A Milan court last month convicted three of Berlusconi's former associates of procuring aspiring show girls willing to prostitute themselves during the media mogul's infamous "bunga bunga" parties.
A Naples court also is investigating him for allegedly bribing a lawmaker to bolt a previous center-left government under Romano Prodi and join his party, a move that weakened Prodi's slim majority.