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Berlusconi plans to run in European elections, advisor says

'Violation to democracy' if convicted ex-premier stopped

14 March, 10:43
Berlusconi plans to run in European elections, advisor says (ANSA) - Three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi is planning to run in European elections in May despite a ban from holding office after a binding conviction for tax fraud last year, his political advisor Giovanni Toti said Friday. "Berlusconi has led (the center-right) Forza Italia (FI) party in every election. I assert he will do that again this time," said Toti told Italian daily La Stampa. The ex-premier is ineligible to stand in elections after the the tax-fraud conviction, which he says is part of a two-decade-long campaign of persecution by left-wing elements in the judiciary who want to eliminate him from the political arena.

Berlusconi has said he was hopeful the tax-fraud verdict will be overturned and he will be able to top FI's lists of candidates in every Italian region at the European elections.

The billionaire is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights and seeking to have the tax-fraud case reopened in Brescia.

Earlier this year a Milan court refused to grant him permission to leave Italy for the congress of the European People's Party (EPP), of which his FI party is a member, since having his passport confiscated after the tax-fraud conviction.

The three-time premier, who faces several other legal tangles, was also denied a request to leave Italy for a meeting of the EPP in Brussels in December.

Toti said if Berlusconi is denied the opportunity to run in European elections in May, "it would be the umpteenth violation to democracy".

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