“A panel of judges Monday sentenced former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in prison for abusing power and having sex with an underage prostitute.Judges also barred the flamboyant former prime minister from holding public office.
The high-profile case centered on an exotic dancer nicknamed “Ruby the heart-stealer.”Berlusconi’s attorney told reporters he plans to appeal the conviction. He said he was not surprised by the verdict, because the former prime minister had not gotten a fair trial.“
What a disgrace. In addition to these charges, he was also convicted last year of tax evasion and was sentenced to four years in prison. However, he is likely to remain free for years while he files his appeal.
I am still undecided as to whether he is a cause of Italy’s political and economic dysfunction, or merely a symptom. For example, Berlusconi controls a large part of the media directly through his ownership of Mediaset, the largest broadcaster in Italy. He has retained that control throughout his time in and out of office. That would be like if President Obama owned MSNBC (though in fairness it sometimes seems that way). How can you have a healthy democracy when politicians literally own parts of the media? It’s crazy.
That would help explain why he has been elected so many times. And during the last election his party almost won a plurality of seats in the Italian parliament. A convicted tax-evader who was being tried for have sex with a minor almost managed to be elected Prime Minister! It’s friggin’ crazy.
The good thing is that whenever I look at the Italians, I feel better about the good ole US of A.