ANSA, TGCOM24 (Italy)
ROME – Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi broadcasted an angry video late Thursday, after a high court upheld his four-year prison sentence in a tax fraud case.
The center-right leader strongly denounced the jail ruling, claiming his innocence and accusing the Italian Justice of persecuting him. "No-one can understand the true violence that I've been the victim of through a series of charges and trials that had no basis in reality," he argued in the nine-minute video.
Because of his age, the 76-year-old politician is unlikely to serve his time behind bars, but rather under house arrest. It is however the first definitive sentence Berlusconi has received after a long series of trials on charges ranging from abuse of office, sex offences, bribery, tax fraud and tax evasion.
Here are some selected extracts from Berlusconi's speech:
"Today's sentence confirmed my belief that a part of the judicial authorities has become irresponsible"
"I have never been anyone's silent partner, I have never devised any system of fiscal fraud, there have never been false invoices in the history of mediaset, just like there are no hidden funds abroad that are linked to me or my family."
"In exchange for the commitments I have made for my country over almost 20 years and now as I am coming to the end of my public life, I have been rewarded with accusations and a verdict that is founded on absolutely nothing, that takes away my personal freedom and my political rights."
"Is this the Italy that we want? Is this the Italy that we love? Absolutely not."