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Silvio Berlusconi has broadcast an angry video message after his jail sentence for tax fraud was upheld by Rome’s Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court.
Italy’s former PM Silvio Berlusconi said he was the innocent victim of “an incredible series of accusations and trials that had nothing to do with reality”.
The court also ordered a further judicial review on whether Silvio Berlusconi should be banned from holding public office.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, is unlikely to go to jail because of his age.
While he is expected to serve out his sentence as house arrest, Silvio Berlusconi has the option of asking to do community service instead, with the deadline for the application not expected to fall until mid-October.
The ruling by Rome’s Court of Cassation, against which he cannot appeal, came after a three-day hearing. Silvio Berlusconi was not in court.
In an emotional nine-minute video, Silvio Berlusconi denounced the decision as “based on nothing, and which deprives me of my freedom and political rights”.
“No-one can understand the onslaught of real violence that has been directed against me following an incredible series of accusations and trials that don’t have any foundation in reality,” he said.
He described the more that 50 court cases he has faced as “genuine judicial harassment that is unmatched in the civilized world”.
Silvio Berlusconi has broadcast an angry video message after his jail sentence for tax fraud
“In exchange for the commitments I have made over almost 20 years in favor of my country and coming almost at the end of my public life, I have been rewarded with accusations and a verdict that is founded on absolutely nothing, that takes away my personal freedom and my political rights.”
Silvio Berlusconi criticized the country’s judicial record, saying: “Is this the Italy that we want? Is this the Italy that we love? Absolutely not.”
It is the billionaire businessman’s first definitive conviction after decades of criminal prosecutions.
The case concerns deals that his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films.
Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison at the conclusion of the trial in October last year, though this was automatically reduced to a year under a 2006 pardon law.
The court at the time heard that he and other executives had bought TV rights at inflated prices to avoid paying taxes.
He was labeled the “author of a whole system of tax fraud”.
The review of the lower court’s five-year ban on holding public office means Silvio Berlusconi can remain as a senator and as leader of his centre-right People of Freedom Party (PDL) for now.
Silvio Berlusconi’s political grouping forms part of Italy’s coalition government. Prime Minister Enrico Letta needs both the PDL and his own centre-left Democratic Party to govern.
In a statement after the court ruling, Enrico Letta urged “a climate of serenity” for the good of the country.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano also urged the country to stay calm.
Silvio Berlusconi’s legal team said there were “solid reasons” why Berlusconi should have been acquitted, and it would “evaluate and pursue any useful initiative, also in Europe, to make sure that this unjust sentence is radically reformed”.
Anti-establishment politician Beppe Grillo welcomed the court ruling, comparing the sentence to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
In a statement on his blog, Beppe Grillo said Berlusconi had “polluted, corrupted and paralyzed Italian politics for 21 years”.
Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction for tax fraud has been upheld by an appeals court in Milan.
The court also reinstated a four-year prison sentence and five-year ban from public office Silvio Berlusconi was handed in October.
Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of artificially inflating prices of film distribution rights bought by his company, Mediaset, to avoid taxes.
He is now expected to appeal against Wednesday’s ruling at Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, has denied the charges and said they are politically motivated.
But instead of overturning October’s verdict, the Milan appeals court on Wednesday upheld his conviction for tax evasion and re-instated the original jail sentence. The four-year term had been cut to one year by a lower court because of his age.
Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction for tax fraud has been upheld by an appeals court in Milan
“We knew it would go like this,” Silvio Berlusconi’s defense lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told reporters.
There is however no real prospect of Silvio Berlusconi being jailed, as he will exercise his right to appeal and the case will actually soon expire under a time limit.
Nevertheless, this is another major legal blow for Silvio Berlusconi, whose People of Freedom (PdL) party is part of Italy’s new coalition government.
In the eyes of the law Silvio Berlusconi is a convicted fraudster, but he will argue as he always does that all his legal troubles are the simply the work of his political enemies – left-wing elements in the judiciary.
In March, silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of arranging for a police wiretap concerning a political rival to be leaked and published in a newspaper run by his brother. He denied the charges and is expected to appeal.
Silvio Berlusconi is also currently on trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute, and later abusing his powers by putting pressure on the police to release her from custody. He has admitted sending her money, but insists the funds were meant as a gift.
In other trials over the years, Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of charges including accounting fraud, perjury, bribery and corruption. He has denied all the accusations against him and has either been acquitted or let off under statutes of limitations.
Silvio Berlusconi’s trials:
- Accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute: Verdict due
- Convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for arranging leak of police wiretap
- Accused of tax fraud over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films: Convicted in October 2012; Sentence upheld by appeals court in May
- Two other corruption cases involving tax evasion and bribery of a British lawyer: Expired under statute of limitations
Stephen Baldwin has avoided a jail sentence after admitting income tax evasion in Rockland County Court.
Actor Stephen Baldwin, 46, admitted failing to pay New York state income taxes for 2008, 2009 and 2010.
A plea bargain was reached to enable Stephen Baldwin’s record to be wiped clean if he pays back $300,000 within a year.
Failure to pay within that time will result in a five-year sentence of probation.
Stephen Baldwin has avoided a jail sentence after admitting income tax evasion
Such a sentence would require the actor to complete five years under supervision and following certain conditions.
The full repayment would be expected to be made during that probation period.
Stephen Baldwin’s total bill including taxes, interest and penalties is $400,000 but state Supreme Court Justice Charles Apotheker said $100,000 had already been paid.
The star said he never intended to avoid paying taxes and got into trouble by trusting others.
“Unfortunately, I got some really bad suggestions and advice … from lawyers and accountants,” Stephen Baldwin said outside court.
“I just look forward to getting the $300,000 paid in the next year,” he added.
Stephen Baldwin is the youngest brother of the Baldwin acting dynasty which includes Alec, William and Daniel.
Married with two daughters, Stephen Baldwin became a born-again Christian following the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
His early career included roles in acclaimed films such as Last Exit to Brooklyn and Born on the Fourth of July.
More recently Stephen Baldwin has appeared in a number of TV reality shows including the US version of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here in 2009 and Britain’s Celebrity Big Brother in 2010.
Stephen Baldwin is currently appearing in All-Star Celebrity Apprentice and also co-hosts a US radio show with conservative pundit Kevin McCullough.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the US man behind anti-Islam film Innocence of Muslims that led to mass protests in the Middle East has been sentenced to a year in jail for probation violations.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was sentenced by a judge in California after admitting four violations which stem from a 2010 conviction for fraud.
None of the charges was connected with the content of the controversial film, Innocence of Muslims.
Dozens of people died in the Middle East in protests over the film.
US District Judge Christina Snyder said Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, must spend 12 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.
Prosecutors had been seeking a two-year sentence.
After the 2010 conviction, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula had served most of a 21-month jail sentence for using more than a dozen aliases and opening about 60 bank accounts to conduct a cheque fraud scheme, prosecutors said.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, Innocence of Muslims filmmaker, in jail for probation violations
The Los Angeles Times said that it was while he was in prison that he read the Koran, looking for ways to criticize Islam.
On his release he was barred from using computers or the internet for five years without approval from his probation officer.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was arrested in September, also goes by the name of Sam Bacile, Nicola Bacily and Mark Basseley Yousseff and is believed to be an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian.
US authorities have said they believe Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was the person behind the controversial film, but have not said whether he was the person who posted it on the internet.
Muslims around the world took to the streets in protest, outraged by the film’s portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad.
Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyers are to appeal against his jail sentence for tax fraud, Italian media has reported.
The appeal will be lodged by 10 November, reports said, and could take several years.
Former Prime Minister Silvie Berlusconi and others were convicted of inflating the price of distribution rights bought by his Mediaset group to avoid paying taxes.
On Friday a Milan court sentenced him to four years but later cut it to one.
The media mogul was also barred from holding office for five years.
A furious Silvio Berlusconi later went on national television to condemn the sentence as “intolerable judicial harassment”.
He has long complained that he is being persecuted by left-leaning judges in Milan.
“It is a political, incredible and intolerable judgement,” Silvio Berlusconi said on Italia 1 – one of the TV stations he owns.
“It is without any doubt a political verdict just as all the cases invented against me are political.”
Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyers are to appeal against his jail sentence for tax fraud
Silvio Berlusconi has faced a number of trials but it is the first time he has been sentenced for any crime concerning his business activities.
He has in the past either been cleared, or cases have run beyond the judicial time limit.
In 1997 Silvio Berlusconi received a suspended sentence for false book-keeping but that conviction was reversed on appeal.
In the latest case, prosecutors said that part of the money declared for the purchase of US film rights was skimmed off to create illegal slush funds, reducing tax liabilities for Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset group.
The court handed Silvio Berlusconi a longer sentence than the three years and eight months requested by prosecutors. However, it later announced that the sentence would be cut to one year due to a 2006 amnesty law aimed at reducing prison overcrowding.
It ordered him and his co-defendants to pay 10 million euros in damages.
Both the jail term and the ban from holding office will only take effect if the sentence is upheld by a higher court.
Silvio Berlusconi is unlikely ever to serve his sentence as the conviction first has to be confirmed by two successive courts of appeal.
Those appeals could take years.
In February a court threw out a corruption case against him after the statute of limitations had expired.
Silvio Berlusconi is also currently on trial charged with paying for sex with an underage girl and trying to cover it up. He denies any wrongdoing.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, was forced to resign as prime minister of a centre-right coalition last November, and recently said he had no plans to stand again in elections due next year.
The three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot accused of hooliganism have been jailed for two years after staging an anti-Vladimir Putin protest in a Moscow cathedral.
Judge Marina Syrova convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, saying they had “crudely undermined social order”.
The women say the protest, in February, was directed at the Russian Orthodox Church leader’s support for Vladimir Putin.
The US, UK and EU all criticized the sentences as “disproportionate”.
Prosecutors had been seeking a three-year jail sentence for the women.
Judge Marina Syrova said Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, had offended the feelings of Orthodox believers and shown a “complete lack of respect”.
“Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich committed hooliganism – in other words, a grave violation of public order,” Judge Marina Syrova said.
Along with other members of their band, the women staged a flashmob-style performance of their song close to the altar in the cathedral on 21 February.
Judge Marina Syrova convicted Pussy Riot members of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred
Their brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out”, enraged the Orthodox Church – its leader Patriarch Kirill said it amounted to blasphemy.
Vladimir Putin was elected for a third term as president two weeks later.
Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich, watching Friday’s proceedings from inside a glass-walled cage in the courtroom, smiled as the widely predicted conviction was announced.
The judge then took three hours to read the verdict, before handing down “two years deprivation of liberty in a penal colony” for each defendant.
“Considering the nature and degree of the danger posed by what was done, the defendants’ correction is possible only through an actual punishment,” Judge Marina Surova said.
One man in the courtroom shouted “shame” at the sentencing, and there were chants and whistles from the band’s supporters outside.
Nadezdha Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said: “Russia’s image was quite scary even before [this]. What happened now is a clear sign that Russia is moving towards becoming more like China or North Korea.”
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny added: “They are in jail because it is Putin’s personal revenge. This verdict was written by Vladimir Putin.”
The defendants’ lawyer, Nikolai Polozov, said they would not appeal to President Vladimir Putin for a pardon. However, there will be a legal appeal against the verdict.
Amnesty International said the ruling was a “bitter blow” for freedom of expression in Russia.
EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and the UK’s Foreign Office criticized the severity of the sentences.
US state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: “We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld.”
On Thursday, Nadezdha Tolokonnikova had said she was “not bitter about being in jail”. But, speaking through her lawyer on Twitter, she said: “Politically, I am furious.”
“Our imprisonment serves as a clear and unambiguous sign that freedom is being taken away from the entire country,” she said.
The women have been detained for the past five months.
Associated Press news agency said a number of protesters had been arrested outside the court before the sentencing was announced, including ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov and opposition politician Sergei Udaltsov.
There were also pro-Pussy Riot protests in Paris, where demonstrators in Igor Stravinsky square chanted “Freedom”, and in Kiev, where women protesters sawed down a wooden cross in a central square.
Other shows of support took place in Belgrade, Berlin, Sofia, London, Dublin and Barcelona.
The band has also had vocal support from artists including Paul McCartney and Madonna, and from politicians.
Critics of the band have also been demonstrating, saying the stunt was an insult to the Russian Orthodox Church.
Igor Kim from Moscow said: “Shouting and screaming and spreading hate in Church is unacceptable and is contrary with Christian ethics.”
Valentina Ivanova, a retired doctor, told Reuters: “What they did showed disrespect towards everything, and towards believers first of all.”
One protester outside court in Moscow simply shouted: “Let Pussy Riot and all their supporters burn in hell.”