Berlusconi asks to do community service
Alternative to house arrest for tax-fraud conviction11 October, 20:24
The 77-year-old media magnate, who is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights and says he is the victim of persecution from leftwing elements in the judiciary who a trying to sweep him off the political arena, does not face going to prison because he is over 70.
Nevertheless, the three-time premier told MEPs for his People of Freedom (PdL) party Friday that he feared he would "rot in prison" and meet the same fate as jailed former Ukraine prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Berlusconi is expected to be ousted from the Senate later this month because of the conviction, for dodging taxes on the purchase of US film rights.
The ex-premier is appealing against convictions for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and for being involved in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap.
He may also face trial for allegedly bribing a Senator to change sides to contribute to the fall of a previous centre-left government.
Berlusconi failed in a bid to bring down Italy's unprecedented left-right government last week over his upcoming Senate expulsion when some members of his centre-right party disobeyed him for the first time, forcing an embarrassing last-minute U-turn over a confidence vote for centre-left Premier Enrico Letta.
The Pdl appeared on the verge of a split into Berlusconi loyalist hawks and pro-government doves after the mutiny but it has since been mending fences.
Berlusconi said Friday that members of his party had to call a truce and work to reunite. "We have to down arms and return to the party," Berlusconi told the meeting of PdL MEPs, ANSA sources said. "I'll do all I can to reunite us". The sources said Berlusconi was critical of the five PdL ministers in the grand-coalition government, who are on the moderate wing of the party, saying the only one he chose for the cabinet was Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Angelino Alfano. Alfano, who is also the PdL secretary, led the rebellion against Berlusconi's bid to sink the administration. But the three-time Italian premier also reportedly had harsh words for loyalists who have been calling for a score-settling party congress.