Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi is turning to Europe's human rights court in a bid to avoid a ban on public office and other punishments for his tax fraud conviction, the media mogul's aides said Sunday.
The politician and media magnate was found guilty of artificially inflating the amounts paid for film rights by his Mediaset empire to reduce the company's tax liabilities. Berlusconi claims he is an innocent victim of magistrates who sympathize with the left, but the verdict was upheld by Italy's top criminal court last month.
His top aide, Angelino Alfano, said the petition to the Strasbourg, France-based tribunal "shows that the Berlusconi case isn't closed."
Alfano didn't say when or on what grounds the petition to the European rights court was filed. But, "we are really confident, that at the European level, we can reach a finding of innocence that so far in Italy hasn't been possible," he said.
Italy's Court of Cassation confirmed a four-year prison term — though Berlusconi is unlikely to actually serve it — and also ordered a Milan appeals court to determine the length of a ban on serving in public office from one to three years.
A Senate panel Monday starts formally discussing if Berlusconi must surrender his Senate seat. That deliberation isn't based on the ban ordered by the Cassation Court, but a 2012 law says those sentenced to more than two years in prison are ineligible to hold public office for six years.