Berlusconi Booted Out of Italian Senate, Generally Totally Disgraced
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has finally done it: He's been kicked out of the Italian Senate. Over what? Oh, um, just tax fraud and paying for sex with a minor. Wednesday marks the end of a very short-lived run as senator: Berlusconi has only been in the position since March 2013.
The vote came after a long day chock-full of arguments for and against Berlusconi. The Italian Senate's choice to expel him puts an end (well, somewhat of an end) to an ongoing saga of litigation, convictions, and scandal that has rocked Italy under his influence for years now.
Berlusconi has multiple convictions on his plate: in October 2012, he was found guilty of the tax fraud. Berlusconi and his codefendants were fined 10 million Euros, and he was also banned from holding public office for three years.
Berlusconi was also convicted in June of paying to have sex with a minor, a Moroccan dancer named Karima El-Mahroug who was also allegedly a sex worker (though she claims otherwise). Witnesses brought to court claimed that Berlusconi had had relations with her 13 times, including when he was prime minister.
Berlusconi's sentence was seven years in prison, and he was permanently banned from running for public office again. Now that he's been booted out of the senate, Berlusconi has lost parliamentary immunity from arrest, which he's had throughout his 20-year career as a politician. Meaning, he might finally go to jail.
Why did it take this long for Berlusconi to be thrown out of government despite all his criminal offenses? In short, Italian law. It wasn't until last year that Italy passed a law that makes "politicians convicted of serious criminal offenses ineligible for Parliament," and even then, only a full vote by the senate could expel him.
Despite the charges against Berlusconi, not everyone is happy to see him go. "It’s just unfair that they would condemn him when Parliament is full of people who are way worse than him, who have avoided taxes, stolen public money and worked against the people. This country would be nothing without him,” a pro-Berlusconi woman living in Bologna told The New York Times.
We're guessing Berlusconi isn't going to take this lying down.