Italy court lifts constraints on Berlusconi after tax fraud sentence

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 14, 2015 7:29 AM

MILAN (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will be free to travel abroad after a court in Milan declared on Tuesday that he had fully served his sentence for tax fraud, although he will still be prevented from running for election.

A judicial source said the court had filed the declaration that Berlusconi's sentence had been completed, meaning his passport will be returned to him. However he remains ineligible for public office under an anti-corruption law passed by the last government.

No comment was immediately available from the 78-year-old media tycoon's lawyers.

Berlusconi was given a four-year jail sentence for his part in a tax fraud scheme at his Mediaset broadcasting empire but he was only ordered to perform a year of community service at an old people's home, a period he completed last month.

With regional elections due next month, the end of his sentence should give him more freedom to campaign with his Forza Italia party, which has been split by infighting in recent months as potential successors for leadership of the center-right jockey for position.

The tax fraud sentence hastened Berlusconi's political decline by forcing him to quit his seat in the Senate and adopt a much lower public profile than he previously enjoyed as one of Europe's best-known leaders.

He continued to play an important behind-the-scenes role, notably reaching a cooperation agreement with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to help a series of economic and institutional reforms through parliament.

(Reporting by Sara Rossi; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)