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Silvio Berlusconi faces new bribery trial hearing - Times Online

A trial in which Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister, is accused of paying a $600,000 bribe to David Mills, his former British tax adviser, will resume next week.

Mills -- the estranged husband of Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister -- was given a four-and-a-half-year sentence this year for accepting the bribe to give misleading evidence on Mr Berlusconi's behalf in corruption trials in the 1990s. The first of two appeals against the verdict was turned down in October, and the Supreme Court has until next April to accept or reject Mills's second and final appeal.

The revival of the charge against Mr Berlusconi for allegedly giving the bribe follows a decision by the Constitutional Court in October to overturn a law that the Italian Prime Minister pushed through Parliament last year, giving himself immunity from prosecution.

Cases against him that were suspended while the law was in force can now resume. However, the case against Mr Berlusconi for the alleged bribe to Mr Mills is being started again from the beginning, and a preliminary hearing today in Milan was restricted to the selection of a new panel of judges.

[Murdoch Alert]
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 03:59:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
B's lawyer immediately declared that his client had a legitimate impediment and would therefore not attend the hearing.

But really this case is not all that important as the Dell'Utri case which will have Gaspari Spatuzza to testify next December 4th.

For those who have watched closely the Italian scene for the last decades, it is not really news the accusations being launched now by Spatuzza. It has always been know that Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were "authors" 1 and 2 in the assassinations of judges Falcone and Borsellino as well as the many deaths in the mafia bombings of cultural landmarks at the time. There was insufficient evidence, so the investigation was archived in 2002.

Now Spatuzza has supplied key evidence. But what really counts is that Spatuzza's "outing" of Berlusconi and Dell'Utri is not being attacked by the other mafia bosses. They continue to treat Spatuzza as a man of respect which simply means that they no longer intend to cover up Berlusconi's and Dell'Utri's alleged roles in the "season of massacres." It is a very strong message above all to Dell'Utri who has often been indicated as pungiuto, a man of respect. The message is simply that Berlusconi didn't honour his side of the pact, so the game is over. The mafia no longer intends to cover him. This usually entails dramatic consequences, although the mafia is presently greatly debilitated, thanks entirely to investigators and police forces.

(Berlusconi has effectively made some pro-mafia laws, the most recent a blanket amnesty for illegally exported capital. But as in all things berlusconian, the law was made above all with his own interests in mind.)

This dramatic situation has prompted Berlusconi to declare that Italy is on the verge of civil war. I don't agree. Italy has been engaged in a civil war since 1943. It has caused over 10,000 deaths since the birth of the republic by one account. With Berlusconi's descent into politics, the rightwing-mafia coalition has had the upper hand for fifteen years. Now that the military branch of the mafia has been severely decimated by law forces, it's imprisoned bosses are more isolated. Territorial power has dwindled to be replaced by a corrupt political class and turf war criminality. The Prince would advice ruthlessness in this case rather than guile, yet Berlusconi's recent actions bespeak more a cornered man who lashes out with vehemence. And vehemence is only impressive at the moment.

There is no substitution for ruthlessness, any way you look at it. But Berlusconi doesn't have the numbers for a putsch. His government is floundering. The cities once again will be submerged with garbage, this time against him. And Bossi will sit back and wait for the ideal moment to pull out the plug, perhaps no later than January, so that Italy careens adventurously down it's uncertain path to disaggregation.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Fri Nov 27th, 2009 at 07:19:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has always been know that Berlusconi and Dell'Utri were "authors" 1 and 2 in the assassinations of judges Falcone and Borsellino

You're joking...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 03:26:50 AM EST
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No. I'm not joking. Everything about Berlusconi, his mafia ties above all, has been notoriously public long before he went into politics in first person. (He has always been in politics behind the scene.)

He has often sued the authors of books about his illegal activities but has always lost because the judges ruled that what had been written about him was substantially true. It's never been a secret.

But the pursuit of criminal charges is an entirely different matter. It involves legal procedure and incontrovertible proof based on solid evidence and that evidence must be acquired in accordance with the rule of law. In Italy, witnesses to crimes are not proof enough. Everything a witness asserts must be backed up by solid evidence. There are procedural formalities that do render Italian justice highly favourable to the defence. So much the better- in an ideal world. It is marvellous. A hat tip to Italian safeguards.

However as an informed citizen who was perfectly aware of Berlusconi's past and how he systematically beat the rap through political corruption, bribery, destruction of evidence, procedural law and statutes of limitations, it's obvious that Berlusconi would be a prime suspect in the murders of the judges and the bombings on the mainland from day one.  Major mafia bosses often declared forthrightly or obliquely that Berlusconi was behind it- and investigators spent the maximum amount of time allowed by law pursuing that avenue without arriving at an unequivocal lawful conclusion. This is all public but never reported. There is a decree that archives the investigation in 2002 that clearly spells out the state of the investigation into the mafia terrorist season of 1992-1994. I have quoted from that sentence here at Eurotrib.  There is the Dell'Utri sentence which bolsters the 2002 archive sentence. It is plain as daylight, based on one's personal abduction and rational deduction, that authors 1 and 2 are Berlusconi and Dell'Utri.

As in any legal case, whether its Capone, OJ Simpson, John Giotto, Pasqua or Berlusconi, an informed citizen may formulate his opinions regardless the eventual trial or sentence, all the more once the motivations for the sentence are published. One may also formulate an opinion by taking into consideration the very special case of Italy where major crimes that involve the massacre of innocent victims will be actively sabotaged by individuals who are in the position of power to do so.

Trial sentences serve to create a public, shared truth. We may not agree with the sentence but even our dissent is part of the public process. We accept the sentence as expression of our institutions based on equality and civil covenant. It is perhaps one of the major grievances in Italy that investigations are sabotaged, trials are prevented from being celebrated and our institutions are constantly denigrated. How can one expect a public, shared truth in such exceptional circumstances?

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 07:46:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Major mafia bosses often declared forthrightly or obliquely that Berlusconi was behind it

So Berlusconi is Il Padrino?

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 07:49:17 AM EST
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No. He's above the padrino. The padrino blindly admires him. Berlusconi made the padrino far richer than he would ever had imagined.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 04:32:11 PM EST
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Is there any reasonable proof for this?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 04:38:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Spatuzza testified recently that the Graviano brothers had their fortune invested in Berlusconi's companies since the 70's. The Gravianos always boasted of their investiments within the cuppola. Further they had spent all their years in Milano in hiding rather than Palermo, presumably as the financial arm of the Sicilian mafias.

Spatuzza's declarations are very recent and are under investigation as praxis.

Throughout Berlusconi's career there has always been the mystery of the origin of his fortune. A consistant percentage of it- some say 20%- has never been accounted for- and is no longer the object of criminal investigations because of the statute of limitations and various amnesties.

There are unrelated cases to the Graviano's that have already been the object of investigations. Berlusconi did pay monthly dividends to the Cinà-Mangano clan for decades but it could not be proved that these were dividends on investments. One of Berlusconi's television channels was originally owned by the mafia through covers.

Berlusconi's daughter Barbara, head of the family Fininvest, issued a statement last night asserting that the company was entirely owned by the Berlusconi family. She further declared that the company will sue for damages against anyone who continues to assert otherwise.

A lawsuit will be yet another opportunity to demonstrate in a civil court what has always been known but has never been discussed in a court due to laws of procedure (statutes of limitation, amnesties, etc.: The origins of Berlusconi's fortune are a mystery defended at all costs.

Because of that, I doubt Fininvest will ever sue. It hasn't in the past when the problem was already notorious, and without Spatuzza's testimony.

As an answer to Spatuzza's going State, Berlusconi will no doubt seek to appease the mafia. He has hastily thrown together several bills to be "imposed" on a mute parliament where he has the numbers to do what he wants up to a point. These bills are:

1) All trials must be celebrated within six years with a two year limit for each grade of justice. The bill is retroactive so as to abolish not only Berlusconi's current trials but tens of thousands of other trials.

2)If property confiscated by the State from the mafia has not been designated for a new use within 90 days, it can be sold by the State. In other words, the mafia, through intermediaries can buy back it's properties legally andin the process, recycle money.

3) The infamous "fiscal shield" which allows the importation of capital hidden abroad under total anonymity and with a token sanction of 5% which as any economist knows can be quickly recovered through investments. The law allows the importation therefore of any capital wherever in the world accumalated through criminal activity thanks to the anonymity-impunity clause. It is curious therefore that Berlusconi has disappeared in Russia for three days with his chum Putin and went twice to Dubai.

This fiscal shield will cause a financial revolution in Italy- and certainly will help the economy. Elsewhere, this law would be considered an international crime typical of fiscal paradises in their best moments.

Europe will certainly condemn it but as Berlusconi has shown time and again, Europe counts nothing. It's useless to talk about closing the corral gate when the horses are long gone.

4) Berlusconi's peones in parliament are once again pulling out the sob story of cruel and inhuman detention of the major mafia bosses. Known as 41bis, the law is designed to prevent mafia bosses from having contact with their territory. The law has been very effective in contrasting the military mafia.

In conclusion, we may observe today an on-going negotiation in broad daylight between Berlusconi's political forces, which now control the country, and the mafia. The excuse of the economic crisis is a windfall. The Gravianos, heavy weight padrinos very much admire Berlusconi for his ability to create riches but partners in an agreement each have means of leverage. The Gravianos need only raise a finger or appear to lose patience and Berlusconi abides. The pro-mafia legislation coming out of parliament these past weeks seem more an attempt to stop revelations with Spatuzza. If the Gravianos talk, it would be embarassing (but not particulary revealing)- but I don't see their interest in going State. Their silence is worth billions worldwide.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Nov 29th, 2009 at 03:16:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting summary; worth putting into a diary if you have a chance...
by Bernard on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 01:01:13 PM EST
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Italy careens adventurously down it's uncertain path to disaggregation

Hmm...

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 03:28:35 AM EST
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...  Italy careens adventurously down it's uncertain path to disaggregation.

disaggregation?  What is Italy?  A chewy granola bar?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Nov 28th, 2009 at 07:29:46 AM EST
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