28 April, 2007

Berlusconi innocent—again

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has received his sentence from the Italian Second Court of Appeals on the accusation of bribing a judge in the SME trial: "absolved". The Italian judicial system has several forms of "absolved", ranging from "the statute of limitations has expired" to "insufficient evidence" to "the defendant did not commit the crime." Berlusconi received the latter form.

This prompts one to wonder what weakness the judges found in the evidence that the previous judges hadn't seen. It also reminds one of the remark made by one politician after the heir to the former king of Italy was arrested:

[T]he Italian judicial system... first arrests people, then takes 20 years to decide whether the motives for the arrest were justified or mistaken.

I'm sure Berlusconi is relieved that he has escaped yet another guilty verdict. You can take a look at his record on Wikipedia; it isn't pretty. The Italian cartoonist Giannelli had the following illustration in today's Corriere della Sera: The translation would be,
  • Absolved with the full formula.
  • From the time that I entered the opposition...
  • justice has started to work!
The joke is based on Berlusconi's complaints that the accusations against him are all politically motivated. The Italians I've spoken to say that the reverse is true: Berlusconi's political interest began only when Italian prosecutors started filing charges against him.

Note, however, that Berlusconi is still in the opposition, despite his wishful thinking that Prodi's government will collapse any day now. Admittedly, it did collapse once, but Prodi reformed his cabinet and received a confidence vote from parliament.

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