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Oct 27, 2012

October 27, 2012

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he feels “obliged” to stay in politics, a day after receiving a jail term for tax fraud.

Mr Berlusconi told Italian TV he wanted to “reform the justice system so that what happened to me doesn’t happen to other citizens”.

On Friday, Mr Berlusconi and others were convicted of inflating the price of distribution rights bought by his Mediaset group to avoid paying taxes.

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Berlusconi sentenced to four years for tax fraud

DEBKAfile October 26, 2012, 4:49 PM (GMT+02:00)

The 76-year old former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for tax fraud and barred from political office for three years. He is expected to appeal against the verdict.

UPDATE 3-Berlusconi threatens to bring down Monti government

Sat Oct 27, 2012 2:05pm EDT

* Government would have to resign if all centre-right yanks support

* Berlusconi attacks magistrates as “dictators,” says Italy not democracy

* Berlusconi says Monti government keeps Italy in recession spiral (Recasts with news conference, threat to withdraw govt support)

By Philip Pullella

ROME, Oct 27 (Reuters) – Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Saturday his centre-right bloc may withdraw its support from the government of Mario Monti, a move that could throw Italy into political chaos ahead of next April’s national elections.

“We have to recognise the fact that the initiative of this government is a continuation of a spiral of recession for our economy,” Berlusconi told a news conference in northern Italy a day after he was convicted and sentenced to four years for tax fraud related to his Mediaset media empire.

“Together with my collaborators we will decide in the next few days whether it is better to immediately withdraw our confidence in this government or keep it, given the elections that are scheduled,” he said.

The Monti government of non-elected technocrats is supported by the centre-left, the centre-right and the centre. It would lose its majority and have to resign if the entire centre-right, including Berlusconi’s PDL party, withdrew support.

Monti took office as prime minister last November when Italy’s bond yields were soaring. He has pushed through tax hikes, spending cuts and a pension overhaul to cut public debt which is running at 126 percent of gross domestic product, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Unemployment in Italy has risen to 10.7 percent, its highest level since monthly records began in 2004, and unions are locked in disputes with companies over plant closures and layoffs.

Berlusconi, a 76-year-old billionaire media magnate, gave no precise timing for when the decision on whether to keep supporting Monti or not would be made.

An indication of the centre-right’s strength will come on Sunday when Sicilians go to the polls to elect a new regional government.

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