materiali di studio a cura di Maurilio Lovatti

 

Chronology from 1991: political-juditial  events in Italy  

by Edoardo Gianfagna


2001- the Tremonti Decree (n°350): the possibility for capital earned 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.

 

 

 

Edoardo Gianfagna

ITALY 1994 – 2011: THE YOUTH AND MATURITY OF A POPULIST POWER

 

 

There follows a non-exhaustive summary of a series of legislative actions implemented by the 3 Berlusconi governments (1994; 2001-2006; 2008-2011). It should be made clear that numerous ministers, undersecretaries, members of parliament and local administrators were for many years or are at present employees of companies owned by Silvio Berlusconi, his lawyers, assistants, personal doctors, dentists, health advisors and image specialists, advertising experts, showgirls, presenters and singers from firms involved in TV productions. And this over and above the enormous degree of control exercised by the same person over new reporting and the moulding of public opinion, through commercial television (ownership of 3 national networks), publicly-owned television (at least 2 RAI channels) which in Italy comes inevitably under governmental control and through the press (at least 3 national daily papers and several magazines - generally "popular" and scandal-seeking, weekly or otherwise).
To give complete inventory of all the legislative measures (covering many fields) which contribute to an understanding the political phenomenon of "Berlusconismo" would be unfeasible in a short article. For further details the reader is referred to the work of the few Italian journalists who retain a spirit of independence (for example Marco Travaglio, Peter Gomez and Giorgio Bocca) together with various foreign observers sensitive to the significance of these events.
Here our intention is merely to outline the great variety of means and measures that have been employed solely in pursuit of the private interests of an individual (Silvio Berlusconi) or of small groups of powerful people who have chosen to subject themselves to him. It should be remembered that amongst these there are many influential self-professed politicians of the centre-left who - for reasons of servile compliance or Machiavellian perversion - have often promoted legislative proposals or taken up positions which clearly served the rise and maintenance of Berlusconi's power.
It should also be noted that Silvio Berlusconi's ascent also drew strength from a particular Italian cultural conflict, which happens to provide fertile ground for the growth of a corrupt populist regime; this cultural seed-bed has been untiringly manured and cultivated for the purpose of creating a collection of deformed and private fantasies (individualism, egocentricity and a love of mass-media protagonism, the spectacularization of the private, the omnipresence of football as a surrogate for communal existence, a lack of political principles, anti-rationalism and a dislike of reasoning, esoteric and personality-dominated television, occultism, machismo, opposition to the State, the idolizing of deviousness, the "necessity" of favouring and promoting allies and associates, sexual obsessions, generalized indifference, the use of bad language, uncritical nationalism …) which have held in check many ideals of community and public life.
Exploiting historical vices which are widespread in the "Italian mentality", and in fact making a point of amplifying, reinforcing and publicly parading them through use of the mass media, Silvio Berlusconi has given a progressively larger role to sentiments that twenty years ago no one would have dared express. Beside the gradual erosion of the critical faculties of those already inclined (through indolence, selfishness, lack of knowledge of our historical and cultural inheritance) to neglect civic duties, with the willing assistance of ministers of justice, the economy, culture and education, this jack-of-all-trades president has undertaken the demolition of the constitutional architecture of the Italian Republic. Repeated attacks have been unleashed in particular against the judiciary (notwithstanding the traditional separation of powers); the schools, seen as dens of communist sedition against the government (and of layabouts) and feared as the very breeding-ground of critical thought; Europe, portrayed as a dead-weight or a useless bureaucratic obstacle to the natural expression of the people's will (as well as a cove of Masons and homosexuals); the rest of the world, always ready to fall for the trickery of the Italian opposition press; and lastly history itself, subject to an onslaught in the search for murky nostalgic lessons, opaque demagogic expedients or indeed overtly anti-libertarian suggestions.
Who is Silvio Berlusconi? Whilst respecting in their entirely the rights guaranteed to each citizen by the Italian Constitution, we believe it is only correct that it should be known that Silvio Berlusconi has been suspected of…


1. Drug traffickingIn 1983, during a drug-trafficking investigation, the Guardia di Finanza recorded Berlusconi's telephone. Their report states, "We received information that the renowned Silvio Berlusconi financed an intense trade in drugs from Sicily to other regions of Italy and France. The suspect is involved in large building projects on the Emerald Coast and is alleged to use some of his companies as fronts". The inquiry uncovered no criminal activity and was closed in 1991.

2. Lying under oath with respect to the secret P2 lodge Silvio Berlusconi was first found guilty by a law court in 1990: the Venice Court of Appeal found him guilty of lying under oath to judges with regard to his membership of the P2. In 1989, though, there had been an amnesty which pardoned the offence.

3. Bribing tax inspectorsBerlusconi was accused of paying bribes to Guardia di Finanza tax inspectors, so as to reduce tax controls on four of his companies (Mondadori, Videotime, Telepiù...). In the initial trial he was given 2 years 9 months imprisonment for all four bribes and no mitigating circumstances were recognized. In appeal the latter were accepted and the statute of limitations applied to three of the bribes. For the fourth (Telepiù), he was acquitted on the basis of the "Formula of doubt" ("formula dubitativa", comma 2 art. 530 cpp).

4. Illegal payments to Craxi (All Iberian 1) At the initial trial for illegal payments to Bettino Craxi totalling 21 billion lire, paid through a company registered abroad (All Iberian), he was sentenced to 2 years and 4 months imprisonment. In appeal, the slowness of the trial led to prescription according to the statute of limitations. This was upheld by the highest court.

5. Fraudulent accounting (All Iberian 2) Berlusconi has been charged with fraudulent accounting at Fininvest. After many delays and skirmishes, debate is still under way in the Milan court.

6. Fininvest group, financial malpractice (All Iberian 3) The Milan prosecutors' office has investigated the network of foreign companies of the Fininvest group (Fininvest Group B), finding fraudulent accounting and practices which have generated about a thousand billion lire of undeclared funds. Formal charges are expected soon.

7. All Iberian (2 & 3) Silvio Berlusconi and three ex-directors of Fininvest were acquitted at the end of the All Iberian case which started in 1995. They had been accused of accountancy fraud and false declarations, but according to the new regulations regarding company law. It should be noted that this new law was made by a government of which the Prime Minister was Silvio Berlusconi himself. Source.

8. The Lentini caseBerlusconi was charged with having made the decision to pay 6 billion lire of undeclared funds from the accounts of the Milan football club to those of the Torino football club, to be used for buying player Gianfranco Lentini. The case is still being heard in the Milan court.

9. Medusa cinematografica Berlusconi was accused of illegal operations during the purchase of the company Medusa cinematografica, for not having declared the sum of 10 billion lire. The initial verdict gave him a 1 year 4 months sentence for fraudulent accounting. In appeal the court recognized mitigating circumstances and the statute of limitations thus became applicable. 

10. Land in Macherio Berlusconi is accused of various tax irregularities during the purchase of land around his villa in Macherio. In the first trial he was acquitted of some charges; others were removed by the statute of limitations. The sentence was upheld in appeal.

11. Mondadori RulingBerlusconi was charged with having bribed judges in Rome so as to obtain a judgement in his favour in the Mondadori case, which had to establish the ownership of the publishing house. At the preliminary hearing, the judge declared the case closed, on the basis of the "formula dubitativa". The prosecutors' office made recourse to the court of Appeal, which will soon have to decide whether to confirm the suspension or charge Berlusconi, Cesare Previti and Judge Renato Squillante. 

12. Corrupt judges-SME Berlusconi is accused of having bribed judges during operations for his takeover of the firm SME; Cesare Previti and Renato Squillante are also in the dock. The first trial is under way in the Milan court.

13. Division of advertising between RAI and Fininvest Berlusconi, at the time Prime Minister, is accused of having persuaded RAI to reach an agreement with Fininvest over advertising levels, so as to reduce competition. The Rome prosecutors' office possessed insufficient evidence regarding conspiracy charges and asked for proceedings to be terminated at the preliminary hearing.

14. Pay-TV tax bribesBerlusconi was accused of having bribed directors and officials of the finance ministry to reduce VAT from 19% to 4% for Pay-TV and to receive favourable refunds. The Rome prosecutors' office asked for the case to be closed at the preliminary hearing.

15. Mafia killings 1992-1993 For many years Palermo, Caltanissetta and Florence prosecutors have been conducting investigations into the obscure figures who commissioned the killings of 1992 (judges Falcone and Borsellino) and 1993 (in Florence, Rome and Milan). Preliminary enquiries into the possible involvement of Berlusconi and Dell'Utri in these affairs were formally wound up and charges dropped. Murder investigations regarding unknown suspects continue.

16. Telecinco in Spain Berlusconi, Dell'Utri and other Fininvest managers who were responsible for the Spanish broadcaster Telecinco stand accused of tax fraud for 100 billion lire and violation of the Spanish antitrust laws. They were charged by the Madrid anti-corruption investigating judge, Baltasar Garzon Real. After the trial was suspended several times the judge decided to drop all charges.

17. SME tradingThe Berlusconi trial time-limit expired. In 1991 500 million lire were transferred from a Fininvest bank account to that of Judge Squillante, passing via an account belonging to Cesare Previti. A verdict was reached in 2004: an act of corruption occurred involving Silvio Berlusconi and Judge Squillante. With regard to other charges the evidence was ruled contradictory, insufficient or inexistent; acquittal was granted in one case. 

18. The David Mills caseIn 1997 Berlusconi instructed Carlo Bernasconi, a Fininvest manager, to pay "not less than 600 thousand dollars" into the Swiss accounts of the English lawyer David Mills "so that he would bear false witness in the Fininvest Finanza bribery and All Iberian trials "? David Mills was found guilty in first instance and in appeal for perjury to protect Silvio Berlusconi; he was then released on the grounds of expiry of the maximum trial time. The corruptor (Silvio Berlusconi) may not stand trial thanks to the Alfano Ruling passed by the Berlusconi government.

19. Tax fraud chargesBerlusconi is accused of tax fraud. The charges mainly regard Fedele Confalonieri , for evading €13.3 million that were used to create a slush fund for Mediaset TV rights; the offence is alleged to have been committed together with other persons, one of whom is Silvio Berlusconi.

IN POLITICS…


1994
The "BIONDI DECREE", passed on 13th July 1994 by the Berlusconi I government, forbade the preventative detention (allowing at most house arrest) of those suspected of crimes against the State or financial offences, including bribery and conspiracy to corrupt. At the time several officers of the Guardia di Finanza had just confessed to having been bribed by four companies of the Fininvest Group (Mediolanum, Videotime, Mondadori and Telepiù) and the managers who had paid the bribes were about to be arrested.
The decree blocked these arrests and led to the immediate release of 2764 detainees, of whom 350 were white-collar workers involved in the "Tangentopoli" anti-corruption sweep (including Sig.ra Poggiolini, the ex-minister Francesco De Lorenzo and Antonino Cinà, Mafia boss Totò Riina's doctor).
The Milan "pool" of investigating judges decided to close down. Popular protests against the "Thief-saving" regulation induced the Northern League and AN to withdraw their support and Berlusconi was compelled to let the clearly unconstitutional measure drop.
The immediate arrest followed of Paolo Berlusconi, boss of Fininvest's tax affairs Salvatore Sciascia and the group's consultant Massimo Maria Berruti, accused of having impeded enquiries just after a meeting with Berlusconi.

Decree n.357/1994, the "TREMONTI LAW": reduced by 50% taxes on profits reinvested by companies, as long as they were used for "new capital goods".
The recently created Mediaset (which contained the Fininvest television channels, separated from the rest of the group (which was about to be floated on the stock market), made use of the law to save 243 billion lire in taxes on the purchase of rights for vintage films: which are not capital goods, but immaterial ones, and not new, but old. This illegality was washed away by an "interpretative" note of Tremonti dated 27th October 1994 which explained that the Tremonti Law meant the opposite of what it actually said, extending the definition of capital goods to immaterial ones and the concept of new goods to old ones which had been used abroad.

1995, 1996, 1997: government by the centre-left

NO MEASURES WERE TAKEN TO RESOLVE THE ENORMOUS CONFLICT OF INTEREST WHICH CONCERNED THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, SILVIO BERLUSCONI: THE JUSTIFICATION OFFERED (UP UNTIL THE PRESENT DAY) BY THE CENTRE-LEFT IS THAT ANY STEP TAKEN TO LIMIT THE MEDIA OR ECONOMIC POWER OF SILVIO BERLUSCONI THE POLITICIAN WOULD HAVE BEEN INTERPRETED AS AN ATTEMPT TO USE LEGAL MEANS TO ELIMINATE SOMEONE WHOM IT WAS UNABLE TO DEFEAT IN ELECTIONS; SUCH AN ACT WOULD HAVE SERVED ONLY TO INCREASE HIS APPEAL WITH THE ELECTORATE.

The "MACCANICO LAW". On the basis of a Constitutional Court sentence in date 7th December 1994, the Mammì Law which allowed Fininvest to possess three analogical terrestrial TV channels was declared unconstitutional; the third, presumably Rete4, should have been turned off and transferred to satellite by the 28th August 1996.
But the Post and Telecommunications minister of the Prodi I government, Antonio Maccanico, conceded an extension until 31st December 1996 while a "systematic" law was prepared.
At the year's end, no reform was in sight and a further six-month extension given. The Maccanico Law finally appeared on the 24th July 1997: TV broadcasters, as established by the Constitutional Court, were not allowed to possess more than 20% of the available national frequencies, so one of the Mediaset channels was in excess. But the new limit was to be enforced by a new communications authority (AGCOM), which could become effective only when in Italy there existed "an appropriate growth in the consumption of television programmes broadcast by satellite and cable". No one knew the meaning of "appropriate growth", so Rete4 continued to transmit indefinitely despite contrary legal judgement.

1998, 1999: government by the centre-left
D'ALEMA SAVES RETE4. The newly-arrived AGCOM began to function only in 1998 and presented a new plan for TV frequencies, calling a public tender for the assignment of the 8 national TV concessions. Rete4, being "in excess" in the terms of the Maccanico Law, lost its concession of broadcasting frequencies; its place was won by Francesco Di Stefano's Europa7. But in 1999 the D'Alema government granted to Rete4 a "provisory permit" to continue transmitting without a concession, and thus for a decade Europa7 was denied the frequency to which it had legal right.

The "GIP-GUP RULE". Berlusconi and Previti, charged with corruption of Rome judges (Mondadori, SME-Ariosto and IMI-SIR cases), wished to be rid of the Milan investigating magistrate Alessandro Rossato, who issued warrants for the arrest of corrupt judges and Fininvest lawyers Pacifico and Acampora, not to mention Previti himself (blocked by the lower house, with its centre-left Olive Tree alliance majority). Rossato, as the prosecuting magistrate, was due to conduct the preliminary hearings of the three trials and decide on the requests for indictment made by the Milan prosecutors' office; these were to begin in 1999. Following a suggestion made by Guido Calvi, lawyer of Massimo D'Alema, the centre-left approved a law making it impossible to be both investigating and prosecuting magistrate: the judge who carried out the preliminary investigation (GIP) had then to pass it to a colleague (GUP) who would conduct the preliminary hearing (and who, not knowing the details, would take much longer).
The IMI-SIR and SME preliminary hearings, already under way before Rossato's arrival, continued until his guidance and closed at the year's end with indictments. The Mondadori hearing, not yet under way, passed to another judge, Rosario Lupo, who released all of the accused for lack of evidence (the prosecutors' office subsequently appealed and the appeal confirmed the accusations against all but one: charges were dropped against Silvio Berlusconi due to mitigating circumstances).

2000, 2001
5th April 2001 - Silvio Berlusconi declared: "I will rewrite the law-books. Napoleon and Justinian did so...we do not have their stature, but we will try".

The "EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT". Alone among European Union countries, the Berlusconi II government refused to ratify the "European Arrest Warrant", although only with respect to financial crimes and those against the Public Administration. According to Newsweek, Berlusconi "was afraid of being arrested by Spanish judges in connection with the Telecinco enquiry". Italy was allowed to postpone acceptance of this EC regulation until 2004.

Law n. 367/2001 "INTERNATIONAL ROGATORIES": limited the use in Italian trials of evidence acquired in other countries.
It became necessary to cover up the illegal transactions regarding Swiss bank accounts performed by Cesare Previti (Silvio Berlusconi's lawyer) and Renato Squillante in the trial for perversion of the course of justice (in which Silvio Berlusconi himself was also indirectly involved).

Law n.61/2001 "REFORM OF COMPANY LAW": decriminalization of fraudulent declarations in the management of company balance sheets.
This permitted Silvio Berlusconi's acquittal in two cases ("All Iberian 2" and "SME-Ariosto") because the action was no longer considered by law to be a criminal offence.

Law n.383/2001 "TREMONTI TWO" (Art.13): abolished duty on inheritances and donations with regard to large estates; this had previously been abolished by the centre-left for assets of up to 350 million lire.

"JUDICIAL TRANSFER". On 31st December (while the rest of the country celebrated New Years Eve) the justice minister Roberto Castelli, in response to a request by barristers defending Previti, refused (contrary to usual practice) a trial extension to Judge Guido Brambilla, member of the group conducting the SME-Ariosto trial, and ordered his "immediate commencement of activity" in the court of Surveillance (to which he had been transferred several months before) without allowing the completion of ongoing debates. The SME trial would thus have had to restart from scratch with a new group of judges. But then the president of the appeal court intervened with a new "request" from Brambilla to continue until the end of 2001.


2002
Law n.248/2002, the "CIRAMI LAW ON LEGITIMATE SUSPICION": sanctioned the refusal to partake in a trial, and the request for its transferral, when the defendant suspected that the judge might not be impartial with regard to him. This regulation has been repeatedly invoked by Silvio Berlusconi's lawyers in trials in which he is among the accused.
Law n.282/2002, the "FOOTBALL-SAVING DECREE": allowed sports companies (including Milan football cub, owned by Silvio Berlusconi) to spread out the decrease in their players' value over 10 years' accounts, which resulted in considerable tax advantages.

Law n.289/2002, a "TAX AMNESTY": allowed tax evasion (including that of Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset companies) to be waived in response to the (delayed) payment of fines much lower than the sums owed.

2003
Decree n.143 in date 24/6/2003, the "CO-DEFENDANTS' AMNESTY": the government clarified the "authentic interpretation" of the tax amnesty, inserting also those who had "conspired to commit offences", even if they had not signed any fraudulent tax returns. In this way the Berlusconi government got off the hook nine of the Prime Minister's co-defendants, who were accused in the Mediaset trial (for tax evasion) of having assisted in the evasion by issuing false or over-inflated invoices.

Law n.140/2003, the "SCHIFANI RULING": this was the first attempt to procure immunity for Silvio Berlusconi; it introduced a ban on putting on trial those occupying the Italian State's five highest offices, even for offences not committed during the performance of their duties. The Constitutional Court declared the law unconstitutional in sentence n.13/2004.
Law n.269/2003, a "CONSTRUCTION AMNESTY": pardoned past illegal buildings, abusive construction and unlawful modifications in return for payment of sums inferior to the "urbanization" costs that should have been paid.
Legal decree n.352/2003 the"RETE4-SAVING DECREE": an ad hoc regulation allowing one of the private television networks (RETE4) belonging to Silvio Berlusconi to continue broadcasting despite its illegal occupation of the transmission frequencies.
Law n.350/2003, a "FINANCE BILL", introduced a State-financed incentive for members of the public buying decoders for receiving digital television signals. The company that benefited most from this governmental incentive (Solari.com) was controlled (51%) by Paolo and Alessia Berlusconi.

2004
Minister of the Interior's Decree of 6th May 2004 (prot. n. 1004/100 - 1158): the area named as "Villa La Certosa", Punta della Volpe (Olbia. Sardinia) was declared to be covered by State secrecy norms: this definition of Berlusconi's villa as a "State secret" impeded inspections ordered by the Tempio Pausania Court with regard to an enquiry into criminal violation of building and environmental protection regulations.

Law n.311/2004, a "FINANCE BILL", confirmed the State-financed incentive for the sale of decoders for reception of digital television signals. The company that benefited most from this governmental incentive (Solari.com) was controlled (51%) by Paolo and Alessia Berlusconi.

Law n.112/2004, the "GASPARRI LAW": reorganization of radio and television regulations. With regard to which the President of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, wrote explicitly of the risks posed by "dominant positions", refused to sign the law and sent it back to parliament - whence, after insignificant modifications, it returned once more before the President of the Republic who (having no other choice) signed it.

Law n.308/2004 "AMNESTY FOR CONSTRUCTION IN PROTECTED AREAS": carried the preceding construction amnesties to a logical conclusion, extending their application to protected areas (including that on which stands Villa Certosa, home of Silvio Berlusconi which he had enlarged).

2005
Law n.251/2005 "EX CIRIELLI": reduced the amount of time for expiry of the statute of limits (which leads to the cancellation of a trial when it continues for too long). This law resulted in the annulment of the case for perversion of the course of justice against Previti (Silvio Berlusconi's lawyer) and the trials for fraudulent accounting known as the "Mondadori Ruling", "Lentini" and "Mediaset TV rights" (all tied to Silvio Berlusconi). It also caused the abandonment of numerous other trials awaiting sentence.

Legal Decree n.252/2005 "CONSOLIDATION OF ADDITIONAL SECURITY": encouraged through tax relief the adoption of private pensions on behalf of citizens. It had clear benefits for the insurance companies belonging to the Berlusconi family.

The Law on the Judiciary (not signed by Ciampi because of its evident unconstitutionality and sent back to parliament on 16th December 2004) was approved by the Senate on 29th June. It included:

1) Division of magistrates' roles. It became more difficult to pass from being involved in investigations to sitting in judgement and vice versa.
2) The highest court was accorded a role at the apex of the judicial system, and the function of the CSM (governing body) was reduced. This change ran counter to the spirit of the Constitution, which reserves for the uppermost court the task of controlling sentences and the activity of the judges who pass them.
3) An increased role was given to Judicial Councils, decentralized bodies which would now also represent barristers and local authorities concerned in the running of the organs of judicial administration. Thus lay members (i.e. non-magistrates) would participate in decisions regarding magistrates' status, in contradiction to the Constitution that guarantees the independence of the judiciary, which is subject only to the law.

Reduced funding for judicial activities: the Minister of Justice reduced funding available to the appeal courts for their ordinary activities. This made work in Italian courts of law more difficult. The CSM, which argued thus to the Minister Roberto Castelli, received the reply that cuts in court spending were necessary so that the majority could maintain its election pledges and to reduce fiscal pressure, as Berlusconi had promised in his "pact with the voters".

The Pittelli Law: 45 Articles presented by the Hon. Giancarlo Pittelli of Forza Italia, drawing together and organizing the proposals of twenty or so members belonging to various parties (amongst whom Anedda, Pecorella, Mormino, Cola, Soda and Fragalà), proposed a weighty series of changes to the code of criminal procedure and penal code, "so as to put into practice the principles of a fair trial". The following were the most important changes.
1) The notification of investigation must be made to a suspect immediately when an enquiry is initiated. One who is on the list of suspects must not just be immediately told of this, but also informed of the motives, with an "indication of the laws thought to have been broken". A Mafia member or paedophile, for example, must be immediately warned that an investigation is being opened into his activities, in order that he may suspend all contacts and activities and thus render pointless the inquiry.
2) Cases in which the incompatibility, refusal of or abstention of a judge may be invoked become more numerous and wide-ranging. For example, he might be rejected if "he has manifested his personal conviction regarding matters with which the trial is concerned". Thus a magistrate who has spoken at an anti-Mafia conference might be compelled to leave a Mafia-connected trial in which he is one of the appointed judges.
3) There is a reduction in the number of cases in which preventative detention is permitted. It becomes more difficult to put even Mafia members behind bars.
4) It becomes more difficult for the prosecution to obtain permission for wiretaps or scientific analyses, which may only be granted in cases of "serious evidence of criminality" and must be "absolutely essential for the conduction of the investigation".
5) The defence has the possibility of contesting in the highest court any court orders - those regarding preliminary matters, the relevance of evidence, possible motives for nullifying the indictment, requests for evidence - with the result that that the Court of Cassation would become clogged up and that continual interruptions (each one lasting perhaps 6 months) would lengthen trials and make then unworkable.
6) It would become practically impossible to find someone guilty; prosecutors have the duty to "prove the defendant's guilt beyond all reasonable doubt"; the judge, "in evaluating the evidence", must ascertain that the defendant's guilt is demonstrated "beyond all reasonable doubt" and must explain why this is so in his statement of judgement.
7) The judge may not use previous sentences in his judgements. Thus in cases concerning organized crime, for example, it becomes necessary to demonstrate every time that Cosa Nostra exists, that it is a Mafia-style organization, that it has a centralized structure and that it is governed by a Commission. This could mean the end of trials against criminal organizations.
8) It becomes obligatory for a judge to grant a reduction of third when sentencing a defendant with no previous record. Thus a rapist, because he had previously been above all suspicion, would benefit from a reduced sentence. All those without criminal records may hope for expiry due to the statute of limitations, the terms of which are reduced in proportion to the reduction in the sentence.

2006
Law n.46/2006, the "PECORELLA LAW": made it impossible for the prosecution to appeal against a sentence of acquittal. The Constitutional Court declared this law to be partially unconstitutional in sentence n.26/2007.

Bankruptcy: in a proposed law presented to the house by Niccolò Ghedini, Berlusconi's lawyer, the crime of fraudulent bankruptcy, at present severely punished with prison terms from 3 to 10 years and prescription only after 22 years, would become a non-serious offence punishable by a maximum term of 3 years (therefore without actually going to jail). In the terms of Ghedini's law, a bankrupt would not be liable for any punishment whatsoever if he were to reimburse a part of his debt. To steal would thus become a matter of legality, as long as it were done on a large scale and using white-collar methods: one who, for example, went bankrupt owing 100 billion lire, reimbursed 70 and salted away 30 abroad would not be punished. The law was to be retroactive. This project was hidden away inside a mega-amendment on competitivity passed in May 2005. It stipulated a reduction in sentence from 10 to 6 years for fraudulent bankruptcy but this was restored to 10 years by a further amendment.

2007, 2008
Law n.124/2008, the "ALFANO RULING": this took up again the contents of the "Schifani Ruling", the suspension of criminal proceedings against those holding the State's highest offices. The law was passed shortly before the last hearings of the corruption trial of the English lawyer David Mills (for perjury) in which Silvio Berlusconi (who paid the bribe) was co-defendant. Mills was sentenced in first instance and in appeal to 4 years 6 months in prison. The Constitutional Court, in sentence n.262/2009, found this law to be inconstitutional.
Legal decree n.185/2008: increased from 10% to 20% the main tax imposed on the principal competitor of Silvio Berlusconi's Mediaset television group.

2009
Law n. 33/2009, Art. 7 (commi 3-quater & 3-sexies), "PURCHASE OF ONE'S OWN SHARES": the limit on capital that shareholders holding more than 30% may purchase without the obligation to put all shares up for public sale was increased (from 3% to 5%). In addition the maximum limit set by "Art. 2357 cc" for public limited companies with regard to purchase of their own shares with the intention of defending themselves in anticipation of possible speculatory manoeuvres (OPA) was increased (from 10% to 20%).

Law n. 102/2009, Art. 13-bis, the "TAX SHIELD": allowed, upon payment of a flat rate tax of 5%, to bring back into the country, or regularize the legal position of, financial or other assets resulting from tax evasion and held abroad. This was a creative form of amnesty and a way for the treasury to raise some cash - but also an unprecedented form of money-laundering on behalf of the State, of institutionalized reception of stolen goods.

2010

Law n.73/2010 "IMPENDING REVENUE LAWSUITS": Mondadori made use of this regulation to settle an argument with the tax authorities dating from 1991 by paying € 8,653,000 instead of the 173 million sought.

Law n.51/2010, "LEGITIMATE IMPEDIMENT": it became the duty of judges to take account of Silvio Berlusconi's work commitments, which make it impossible for him to be present at trials.

The following measures are being prepared for the purpose of protecting Silvio Berlusconi from legal proceedings - and to batter and force into submission the judiciary:
Brief trial expiry time for those with no previous convictions and for those over 65 with no previous convictions
a law has been passed which modifies Article 161 of the penal code with regard to an interruption of the prescriptive period established for an offence. When such an interruption occurs, in accordance with Article 160 of the penal code, the period already passed is ignored and the count restarted from zero on the day of the interruption. In the new PDL law limits are placed on prescription times for those without criminal records: in Article 161 of the penal code in force the statute of limitations runs out when a period corresponding to the maximum possible sentence for the crime, plus a quarter of that sentence, has passed. In the new Article 161 the additional fraction is reduced to a sixth. The change does not apply to crimes of grave social consequence (Art.51, commi 3-bis and 3-quarter of the Code of Criminal Procedure).

Fast-track trials
The proposed law produced by the Justice Commission of the Lower House has profoundly modified that passed by the Senate, in particular cancelling a temporary rule regarding the maximum time allowed for each phase of a trial, which affects trials in course and applies to offences punishable by sentences of less than 10 years incarceration committed before 2nd May 2006).
The Commission, presided over by Giulia Bongiorno (a supporter of Fini) also confirmed the "phase rules" regarding each level of a trial, which differ according to the seriousness of the crime. Offences with less than 10 years maximum sentence: a maximum of three years for the first instance, two for the appeal and a year and a half for the highest court, plus a year for every further trial level in the case of annulment and the repeat of levels ordered by the Court of Cassation. For offences with higher sentences, these periods are respectively four years, two years, a year and a half and one year. For crimes with grave social consequences, such as Mafia and terrorism: five years, three years, two years and one-and-a-half years. The law approved in parliament does not specify that a trial stops after these time periods have expired, but rather that the head of the trial judge's judicial office informs the Ministry of Justice and the Prosecutor General at the Court of Cassation.

Long trials
According to some opposition senators, if this proposal should become law all trials would risk becoming extremely lengthy, including Mafia trials.
A judge would not be able to reject evidence on grounds of "irrelevance", which would allow (for example) thousands of people to be called as witnesses. Furthermore, there is a modification of what is known as the "Falcone Rule", (238-bis of the Penal Procedure Code): a sentence passed could no longer be used as established fact in another trial. This would mean starting again from the beginning each time.
In the Mills trial, for example - as Senator Li Gotti emphasized - the sentenced passed on the English lawyer for attempting to pervert the course of justice could not be used as evidence in the related trial concerning the Prime Minister. All witnesses heard during the trial of David Mills would have to be called again in the case that will be held against Berlusconi.

Anti-wiretapping regulations
A new law proposed by justice minister Alfano contains the following changes.
Evidence of law-breaking
Calls may be tapped if there is "strong evidence of crime" (as laid down in the current law), but only on lines belonging to the suspect or others who may be aware of the offences under investigation. Interception of conversations must be "absolutely necessary" to the enquiry under way.
Mafia and terrorism
In the case of organized crime and terrorism, it is enough to have "sufficient evidence of crime". The request must be authorized by a group of judges in court. In its evaluation, the court cannot take account of statements made by co-defendants in connected cases or reports made by those unable to indicate direct sources of information.
Judges must not speak out
It is prohibited for magistrates to make "public declarations" regarding proceedings they are involved in; a magistrate will be substituted if he is suspected of revealing confidential information. The publication of magistrates' names and photographs in newspapers is forbidden.
Publication
The publication of confidential documents regarding legal proceedings is punishable by up to two months' imprisonment or a fine of from two to ten thousand euro. In the case of telephone interceptions the maximum penalty is six years in jail.
Imprisonment for journalists
In addition to up to two months' arrest, journalists risk up to 4 years in prison if they record conversations without informing the participants and up to 6 years if they are "accomplices". Changes are made to the rules regarding the use of concealed videocameras; such filming will only be punished when "used for illegal purposes".
Crimes for which wiretapping is allowed
The list of offences for which calls may be intercepted remains unchanged: those punishable by more than 5 years imprisonment, including crimes against the public administration; defamation; intimidation; usury; harassment; trafficking in and sale of drugs and weapons; insider trading; share manipulation; contraband; handling pornography, including that regarding minors.
Time limits
Interception may continue for more time: the previous limit was 60 days (30, which could be extended twice for a further 15). This may now become 75 days (30 plus three possible extensions of 15). For terrorism, Mafia or threats made by telephone, the limit may be 40 days, plus a possible further 20.
Transition rule
Were the proposed law on wiretapping to be passed by parliament in its present form, it would not apply to current proceedings for which interception authorization requests have already been made. For this category, though, it is forbidden to publish parts or summaries of these conversations.

A temporary halt to nuclear power
The government has decided to defer the nuclear power programme and has inserted in the moratorium contained in the proposed umbrella regulation, presently under debate in the Senate, the repeal of all regulations regarding the construction of nuclear power stations in the country.
Una scelta che avrà con ogni evidenza l'effetto di far decadere il quesito del referendum per l'abrogazione della legge con cui si apriva la strada al ritorno dell'energia atomica in Italia.

There follow further legal monstrosities designed specifically to assist the Prime Minister in his difficulties with the law:

Conflict of jurisdiction to block the Mediaset trial
Conflict of jurisdiction to block the Ruby trial
Immediate suspension of Ruby trial
Impossibility of trying the Prime Minister
Punitive justice reform
Parliamentary immunity
The constitutional Alfano ruling
Magistrates' civil responsibility
Temporary halt to the privatization of water
Reduced penalties for conspiracy with organized crime.

We will now pass briefly to cultural matters, with a list of (some of) the ideas of Silvio Berlusconi and his allies, which have been expressed in various circumstances for various reasons, but which have received the attention they deserve from but a minimal proportion of Italian journalists:
- "I wipe my backside with the Italian flag", threats of "100,000 rifles to make the North independent", symbols of the "Padania" Party in Italian State schools (on behalf of the party of Umberto Bossi, Berlusconi's principle political ally).
- Italian roads named after Fascist historical figures (on the part of local administrators of Berlusconi's party).
- Verbal attacks against the judiciary ("subversives", "should be put in a psychiatric hospital", etc.).
- Repeated insults against the opposition ("brainless", "subversives", "Soviet communists" etc.).
- One of Berlusconi's senators (Rocco Buttiglione) has spoken against gay rights in the European Parliament.
- Exhortations to not pay taxes.
- Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi Montalcini, a 100-year-old Life Senator, was subjected to prolonged shouts of "nappy/diaper" on the part of senators of Berlusconi's party when she went to use the toilets.
- Inevitable complicity with Putin.
- Behaviour towards Gaddafi: plenty of assistance, praise and declarations of friendship, an agreement to receive Libyan sovereign funds in order to "torpedo" Profumo, anti-Berlusconian president of Unicredit, the largest private Italian bank.
- The notable concentration of media and economic power owned by Berlusconi and his family.
- "I am immortal, I am the greatest Italian statesman of the last 150 years" (i.e. including the Count of Cavour!).
- Lies regarding rubbish in Naples: Berlusconi declared to have resolved the problem, but in fact the amount of rubbish in the streets has increased, although - thanks to his television monopoly - the public do not get to see it.
- Lies concerning the reconstruction of L'Aquila after the earthquake.
- Cuts in State schooling: less hours work for teachers and more pupils per class.
-  Cuts in scientific research.
- Darwin boycotted in the Middle School and in cultural conferences; the appointment of an anti-Darwinian fundamentalist as president of the National Research Council.
- Widespread corruption amongst members of the government, members of parliament and local administrators belonging to Berlusconi's party.
- The Alitalia affair: in an attempt to favour Italian businessmen with whom he has ties, Berlusconi refused an agreement with Aire France and dealt a death-blow to the national airline.
- "i furbetti del quartierino"
- Payments to the Vatican.
- A disproportionate amount of time on high-visibility RAI broadcasts is devoted to Berlusconi.
- Opposition newspapers and journalists are subjected to attacks.
- High levels of youth unemployment.
- A halt to liberalization; dismantling of the Bersani Decree.
- Threats to the interests of the president to the industry confederation president (Emma Marcegaglia).
- Scandalous appointments, such as that of Mara Carfagna, ex-showgirl equal-opportunities minister.
- A high level of emigration among graduates.
- Attacks by the parliamentary majority against the European Union.
- The worsening of the ratio between public debt and GDP.
- Italy's descent in the ranking of industrialized countries.
- The increase in Mediaset's profits.
- Italy's poor rating with regard to freedom of expression and association (see the site of Freedom House).
- Italy's poor rating with regard to human rights (see the site of Amnesty International).
- The "baronial" structure of universities and poor international rating of Italian universities (the first is at 176th place).
- Attacks on Nobel Prize winners such as Dario Fo and Carlo Rubbia.
- Political and journalistic attacks, together with the administrative harassment of those from outside the EC, the Northern League "auxiliary policemen", the immigrants' reception centres?"...
- Defamatory attacks on union (references to the Red Brigades)...

And here are some comments and witticisms of Silvio Berlusconi himself:
1. "It's not true that I make jokes; in fact I have a poor opinion of those who do"
2. "La sapete quella del negro che cerca una stanza a Rimini?" E quella del bambino che chiede al papà: "Lo sai perché le uova di gallina quando cadono si rompono? Perché sono fatte col sedere"
3. Mia moglie mi ha annunciato che avrebbe fatto le valigie. Io le ho chiesto se tornava da sua madre e lei mi ha risposto: "Le valigie sono le tue"
4. "Mussolini never killed anyone; Mussolini sent people on holiday… to the frontier"
5. At the Rome FAO conference on world hunger: "The speeches should be shortened, because even though it's not a tragedy in our case, we're hungry too and it's time for lunch"
6. "I've always been charitable, but with discretion, without saying anything to anyone. I'm ashamed of having spoken publicly of the 10 billion [lir] that I gave to Don Gelmini and the billion I paid to the Salesian monks".
7. "We won't even move a pot plant at the RAI"
8. "The RAI is a veritable military machine used against me. And even my television channels criticize me"
9. By the end of December the operational project for the bridge over the Strait of Messina will be ready; "Naples will be free of rubbish in three days"; "We'll beat cancer in three years"
10. (Addressing workmen on a construction site in the city of L'Aquila, recently destroyed by an earthquake) "Where are the showgirls then? Are you all gay?"
11. (Addressing a female opposition member of parliament) "Bindi is prettier than she is intelligent"
12. (Addressing a group of American businessmen) "I advise you to come and invest in Italy because we have beautiful secretaries"
13. (Addressing Euro-MP Schultz, in reply to his voiced disagreement) "In Italy we're working on a film about a concentration camp. I'll propose you for the part of kapo"
14. (Speaking of B. Obama) "A nice and well-tanned president"
15. (Addressing Romano Prodi during a television debate) "…I know what you communists have in mind, I know that you want to make it so that a lawyer's son and a workman's son have the same prospects"
And furthermore…
"I'll never again sit down at the same table as Mr Bossi. I'll never again lead a government which relies on the support of Bossi. He's a completely unreliable person. I'm amazed that the media, with no sense of judgement, give space to all his utterances, that have neither head nor tail"
[ "ANSA", 2nd February 1995 17:01 ]
"I swear by my children: this decree has not been designed for any of my brood"
[ "La Stampa", 20th July 1994]
"My secretary tells me that every day during the last week I worked 17 hours, made 32 telephone calls and had 23 meetings. The Press should have more respect for one who sacrifices himself as I do in everyone's interests - without any personal interests of his own"
[ "La Repubblica", 4th December 2002 ]
"I've given instructions to the Fininvest Board of Directors to sell the TV channels. What else could I do?"
[ "La Repubblica", 22nd March 1995 ]
Emilio Fede?
"Before I had my doubts, but now I've begun to appreciate him. He a bulwark of democracy and of public information"
[ "La Repubblica", 4th January 1995 ]
"To say that I use my position as a political leader to further my personal interests is to deny my natural even-handedness and generosity"
[ "La Stampa", 15th December 1995 ]
When a journalist asked: "Were you a member of the P2 [Lodge] of Craxi and C.A.F. [Craxi, Andreotti and Forlani]?", he replied "That's enough! I can't stand it any more! I joined because I was exhausted by the insistence of my friend Roberto Gervaso. When I received a membership card as "apprentice bricklayer", I told them to send it back. Either Grand Master or nothing"
[ "La Repubblica", 27th November 1993 ]
"My ability is beyond question; others dream of possessing my human qualities and achievements. It is they who must show me what they can do…""
[ "ANSA", 7th March 2001 15:48 ]
The judiciary…
"You must be deranged to do that job, you must be mentally disturbed. If they do that job they must be anthropologically different from the rest of the human race"
[ "La Repubblica", 5th September 2003 ]
"They did tests on me too, on my cerebral and physical functions, and decided that I am a walking miracle"
[ "ANSA", 5th October 2002 19:33 ]

· "I don't accept disagreement any more."
· "That's enough! There are too many profiteers in politics."
· "Applying the lessons I learnt from my Aunt Marina I can tell you that I'm far and away the best Prime Minister that Italy could have had in its 150 years of history."
· "I'm the most persecuted man in history"

Not to mention:
· Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told journalists that he would request a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the behaviour of Milan prosecutors, to determine whether there had been "criminal conspiracy".
· "I see down there in the front row some MPs of elevated aesthetic qualities. I am in love with my wife, but have not lost my aesthetic sensibilities, and I've noticed some exceptional legs around. And don't spy on me, President Fisichella".
· "I love France and continue to love her", Berlusconi once declared, "You only have to count all the French girlfriends I've had".
· "Competitivity - you need to have it towards girls"
· In 2002, during a press conference held on the occasion of a meeting with the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, a young and attractive man, Berlusconi commented: "Rasmussen is the best-looking Prime Minister in Europe. I'm thinking of introducing him to my wife, because he's also more handsome than Cacciari. With all the fish there are in the sea …poor woman…" And to Rasmussen, who smiled glassy-eyed, he explained in English with a wink, "You don't know this story. I'll tell you afterwards…" "I don't what he meant. It seems totally stupid", replied Cacciari soon afterwards when he was questioned by journalists.
· At Brescia during administrative elections in 2003 he declared that "Viviana Beccalossi is more able than pretty. The opposite of Rosi Bindi". Then, though, caught up in his own enthusiasm, he shouted: "Come on Viviana, give us a look!". "At the time I didn't even notice", commented an embarrassed Beccalossi.
· During an official visit in Hungary he suggested that journalists should ask the Hungarian premier for "some good advice".
· Of the property developer Stefano Ricucci he said: "What do you mean, poor Ricucci? He has something we're all jealous of!", alluding to his wife Anna Falchi.
· At the FAO meeting he gave a particular welcome to "pretty female delegates". He explained that he had "dusted off his expertise as a playboy" with the Finnish president Tarja Halonen in order to obtain agreement that the meeting be held in Parma.
· At Moscow in 2004 during an official visit he embarrassed Putin by insisting on kissing a female Merloni worker who had done her best to avoid his attentions.





And finally…

A small unplanned addition to a joint press conference held by Vladimir Putin and Silvio Berlusconi occurred when the Russian journalist Natalia Melikova (of the Nezavsinaya Gazeta), asked the Russian leader with a certain insistence about rumours that he had a sentimental relationship with an Olympic champion of artistic gymnastics, as well as other details concerning his private and family life. Before Putin could reply, a smiling Silvio Berlusconi imitated firing a machine gun in the direction of the journalist. Putin noticed and nodded. Natalia Melikova was certainly well aware of the story of Anna Politovskaja, Ivan and the other Russian journalists who met with a tragic end and whose murderers were never identified (let alone punished). It is not surprising, then, that at the end of the press conference she burst into tears, attracting the attention of many colleagues. When asked how she felt, (ANSA reported) she replied: "I saw Berlusconi's gesture, but I know that your president often makes jokes. There will be no consequences".



 

 

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