materiali di studio a cura di Maurilio Lovatti

 

 

Alberto Geroldi

Chronology from 1991: political-juditial  events in Italy  

 


 

1991-Berlusconi was accused (together with Cesare Previti, Attilio Pacifico, Giovanni Acampora and Vittorio Metta) of attempting to pervert the course of justice; he was alleged to have bribed Rome judges (more than 400 million lire) so as to obtain a judgement in his favour in his appeal to have nullified the Mondadori ruling, the result of which determined the ownership of the publishing house.

 

The 1992/93 massacres- At Caltanissetta Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were included in the list of those suspected of  having ordered the murders in Via D'Amelio (Paolo Borsellino) and Capaci (Giovanni Falcone).

 

1993- the Conso Decree (Amato government): decriminalization of illegal financing of political parties and the possibility of plea bargaining for the crimes of corruption and conspiracy.

 

The Florence prosecutors’ office conducted investigations for years (up until August 1998) concerning suspects who might have anonymously commissioned the following (attempted) murders:

Maurizio Costanzo, 14th May 1993 (Via Fauro, Rome)

27th May 1993 Uffizi bombing (Via de' Georgofili, Florence)

27th July 1993 Contemporary Arts Pavilion bombing  (Via Palestro, Milan)

San Giorgio al Velabro and San Giovanni in Laterano outrages (Rome28th July 1993)

at the Rome Olympic Stadium Olimpico (December 1993 , January 1994)

Formello (Rome) (Salvatore Contorno14th April 1994)

The Florence prosecutors’ office included Silvio Berlusconi and Marcello Dell'Utri on their list of suspects for these actions.

 

1993- by means of a Constitutional Law, parliament modified Art. 68 of the Italian Constitution, which regulates the guarantees regarding members of parliament and senators. It was no longer necessary to obtain the houses’ permission in order to investigate or prosecute members of parliament and senators UNLESS the investigation concerned “opinions expressed and votes cast whilst exercising their parliamentary duties”. In cases mostly regarding defamation or slander the Lower House and the Senate refused authorization to proceed 75 times out of 89 between May 1996 and December 1998.

 

1994-Berlusconi announced his entry into politics. He privately confided to journalists Montanelli and Biagi: “If I don’t get involved in politics I’ll wind up in jail and be bankrupted by my debts”.

 

1994-Silvio Berlusconi was accused of involvement in corruption, which was alleged to have been perpetrated by the payment of bribes to Guardia di Finanza officials involved in tax controls in the offices of four of the Milanese businessman’s firms (Videotime, Mondadori, Mediolanum and Telepiù)

 

1994- Tremonti’s tax amnesty allowed tax evaders to “bargain” with the authorities and pay just modest fines. One of many favours to tax evaders.

 

Berlusconi, President of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) was accused of having pressurized the RAI, (Italian State television), to reach an agreement with Fininvest over advertising, so as to reduce competition.

 

Berlusconi was accused of having paid bribes to managers and officials in the Finance Ministry to obtain the reduction of VAT from 19% to 4% on pay-TV and favourable refunds.

 

1995-Silvio Berlusconi was investigated for the crime of fraudulent accounting, involving undeclared cash payments of around ten billion lire into the accounts of the football teams Milan and Torino for the purchase of player Gianluigi Lentini.

 

1996-Silvio Berlusconi was charged with the illegal financing of a political party (Craxi’s PSI) and aggravated false accounting.

 

1996- the Privacy Law, a severe blow to anti-mafia investigations: it obliged telephone companies (Omnitel, Telecom etc.) to destroy records of telephone calls after only 5 years.

1997-In Spain Silvio Berlusconi, together with other Fininvest managers, was accused of  violation of anti-trust laws, tax fraud and other crimes (such as money laundering) to the advantage of the television company Telecinco he had founded.

 

1997- disappearance of the crime of non-pecuniary abuse of office, that is an  abuse of public office which may not be shown to have created a financially-quantifiable advantage (for someone). This made legal favouritism, nepotism, rigged job contests and recommendations.

 

1998- an ad hoc law to benefit Dell’Utri: the possibility of plea-bargaining in appeal; in 1999 a further law (again for Dell’Utri and again approved by parliamentary majority – the centre-left serenely gave its support) extended plea-bargaining to the highest court.

1999- the Carotti Law, a gift to Cosa Nostra: the effective abolition of imprisonment for life, through the extension of the abbreviated trial procedure to all crimes, even the most serious (including Mafia killings).

23rd November 2000: the Amato government took a step backwards and restored life imprisonment for Mafia members convicted of murder.

 

2000- Berlusconi was accused of having bribed judges during operations related to the purchase of the company SMECesare Previti and Renato Squillante were also charged.

 

2001- “the repentant criminal reform” (presented by the minister Fassino) considerably reduced the benefits for ex-members of the Mafia who assist prosecutors. These incentives had motivated hundreds of men involved in organised crime to leave their organizations and collaborate.

Giorgio Napolitano, the real inspiration behind the law, maintained that there were “too many repentant criminals in Italy” (but not those from the Mafia, the Camorra or – rarest of all – from the ’Ndrangheta)

 

2001- the Amato government reformed criminal tax law (a further example of kindness to tax evaders):

1) Accountancy obligations were removed from tax fraud law: thus ‘under-billing’ operations or the complete omission to issue invoices – typical of tradesmen, craftsmen and professionals (90% of tax evasion) – were considered “unfaithful declarations” punishable by prison sentences of 6 months – 3 years.

2) Such acts were no longer considered criminal below a certain level of evasion (introduction of a “lower limit of punishability”).

3) The 3-year maximum sentence for professionals and traders guaranteed that the sentence could be conditionally suspended (with mitigating circumstances) or, almost always, converted into a fine.

4) A sentence of up to 6 years was imposed for fraudulent declarations (false invoices and accounting tricks, the most difficult to discover and demonstrate).

 

2001- the Berlusconi government announced three parliamentary commissions of inquiry aimed at the centre-left, regarding the Mitrokhin dossier, the Telekom Serbia affair and the “Clean Hands” corruption investigations of the early ‘90s.

For the first time in a democracy the majority organized parliamentary investigations into the supposed scandals of the opposition, so as to keep them in check.

 

2001- the Tremonti Decree (n°350): the possibility for capital earned and/or held abroad to be transferred to Italy. This money had been illegally exported or, in many cases, illegally acquired through criminal activities.

 

2002- a law presented by the minister Castelli: the centre-right majority humiliated the judges’ body of self-government, reducing its size and competence.

 

2003- the Maccanico-Schifani Ruling: absolute immunity from criminal prosecution for the State’s 5 highest posts (President of the Republic, President of the Senate, President of the Lower House, President of the Council of Ministers, President of the Constitutional Court).

 

In 1999 the firm Europa 7 won a tender for national broadcasting frequencies. The Minister of Telecommunications in the D’Alema government acted in contravention of the result of the public tender (Ministerial Authorization 1999) and allowed the continuation of analogical transmissions on the part of "networks in excess” (Rete 4 and TELEPIÙ)

2003- the Berlusconi government passed a legal decree (the ‘network-saving decree’) which stipulated that "networks in excess " could continue to transmit on the frequencies already in use, both analogically and digitally, until the termination of an enquiry into the development of cable digital networks.

 

2005- the Ex Cirielli Law (presented by AN member Edmondo Cirielli) established “zero tolerance” of criminality. Unfortunately it contained a codicil which halved the time regarding the statute of limitations for those with no criminal record on trial for crimes with maximum penalties of 5 – 10 years imprisonment.

 

2006- 11th July (the Prodi government) in the Commission on Justice, the DS, Margherita, Forza Italia, UDC, Greens and Rifondazione Communista reached an agreement on the basic contents of a wide-ranging amnesty.

This included a reduction of 3 years even for habitual offenders, violent criminals and professionals, not just regarding prison sentences, but in equivalent terms also for financial penalties.

Crimes against public bodies were also included; exclusions concerned only organized crime, terrorism, paedophilia in general and concerning pornography, and the illegal detention and kidnapping of persons. (In practice an unconditional capitulation to Berlusconi, with no mention of white-collar crimes, those involving State functionaries).

 

2007-Silvio Berlusconi was investigated by the Naples Prosecutors’ Office, under suspicion of having bribed the then president of RaiFiction, Agostino Saccà, and of incitement to corruption with regard to Senator Nino Randazzo and other Italian senators 

 

Prosecutors in Palermo investigated Silvio Berlusconi and Marcello Dell'Utri for collaboration with organized crime and laundering money obtained by criminal activity.

 

2008/09- the government “forgot” to ratify la Convention of the Council of Europe on corruption, signed by Italy in 1999.

 

2009- the Alfano Ruling: “with the aim of tutelage of the absolute priority of the continuity and regular operation of the highest public functions” this ruling implements the ordinary cancellation of Article 3 of the Constitution. But surely there cannot be four citizens who, because of the offices they hold, are “more equal than the rest”.

2009- the Court of Appeal confirmed the original sentence of 4 years 6 months to Mills for having received $600,000 from Silvio Berlusconi for his false testimonies in 2 trials, with respect to All Iberian and bribes paid to the “Guardia di Finanza” tax inspectors.

 

2009 Silvio Berlusconi was placed under investigation by the Rome prosecutor Giovanni Ferrara, with suspicion of abuse of office (the use of military aircraft to transport himself and others to an evening’s entertainment in Villa Certosa, Sardinia)

 

 

 

2010-Silvio Berlusconi, together with the commissioner of the Communications Guarantee Authority Giancarlo Innocenzi, was formally placed on the list of suspects by the Trani prosecutors’ office (for putting pressure on Agcom to close the TV programme Annozero).

 

2010-Silvio Berlusconi was named as a suspect with respect to tax evasion and fraud, in a Milanese investigation into the trading of Mediaset TV and film rights.

 

2010- 14th December the “purchase” of members of parliament by the government in order to survive a no-confidence vote.

 

21st December 2010 Silvio Berlusconi was investigated by the Milan prosecutors’ office under suspicion of conspiracy and prostitution of minors in connection with the “Ruby Heart-stealer” (Karima El Mahroug) case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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