Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi lashed at magistrates on Thursday, after earning his second conviction in five months: a one-year jail term for leaking information from a judicial inquiry to damage a political rival.
In October, Mr. Berlusconi was sentenced to four years for tax fraud.
He did not go to prison because he appealed, and the same is likely to happen with his latest case. Furthermore, the new charges will be dropped in July or August, because of the statute of limitations.
Mr. Berlusconi was found guilty of passing to his brother Paolo, owner of the Il Giornale newspaper, illegally-sourced wiretaps of former centre-left leader Piero Fassino discussing with the head of the Unipol insurance group a takeover bid on Antonveneta bank.
“So we have a bank?” Fassino was quoted as saying in a story Il Giornale published in late 2005. Because of that remark, he was accused of trying to exert undue pressure on the Unipol-Antonveneta deal, which failed to materialize.
Paolo Berlusconi was given a two-year, three-month jail term for his role in the leak.
Silvio Berlusconi reacted by renewing claims that he was the victim of politically-motivated courts. His supporters noted that leaks from judicial inquiries are commonplace in Italy, and that they are very rarely punished.
“It is really impossible to tolerate such judicial persecution, which has been ongoing for twenty years, and which heightens each time there are particularly difficult political moments,” the media mogul-turned-politician said in a statement.
Mr. Berlusconi, a populist conservative, still holds sway with voters.
Keywords: Berlusconi conviction