An Italian Senate [official website] panel on Friday voted in favor of expelling former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from his seat in parliament. Berlusconi, who was was convicted [JURIST report] of tax fraud in 2012, chose not to appear to defend himself before the panel. The vote, which serves only as a recommendation to the Senate at large, was made by a cross-party committee of 23 Senators comprised heavily of Berlusconi's political opponents. The decision of the panel will have to be ratified later this month in a vote by the entire Senate before becoming effective.
Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] in August upheld [JURIST report] Berlusconi's four-year prison sentence for tax fraud. In addition to the fraud charges, Berlusconi, who stepped down as prime minister last November, has faced a number of criminal charges including publicly releasing private wiretaps, embezzlement and paying for sex with an underage prostitute [JURIST reports]. The former prime minister has been able to avoid serving any prison time by successfully appealing or allowing the statute of limitations on the charge to expire. In January 2011 the Italian Constitutional Court held hearings before striking down [JURIST reports] a bill backed by Berlusconi that would give Italian public officials amnesty from any charges while holding office.