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Italy senate expels former PM Berlusconi

The Italian Senate [official website, in Italian] voted on Wednesday to expel Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] from parliament, effective immediately, following his conviction [JURIST report] for tax fraud. Berlusconi could face prosecution for other crimes now that his immunity has been lost. As a result of his expulsion [BBC report], he may not take part in any general election for six years, as the vote indicates that the senate finds him unfit for public office. Senators rejected a series of challenges from Berlusconi's supporters, and the senate speaker announced him ineligible for a seat.

In October a senate panel voted in favor [JURIST report] of expelling Berlusconi from his seat in parliament. Also in October, an Italian court prohibited Berlusconi from running for office for two years [JURIST report] due to his tax fraud conviction. In August Italy's Supreme Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] 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.

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