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EC's Reding rules out Berlusconi EP bid

'Rules are very clear' says justice commissioner

17 March, 13:33
EC's Reding rules out Berlusconi EP bid (ANSA) - Brussels, March 17 - European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding ruled out ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's bid to run in the May European Parliament elections on Monday. "EU rules are very clear on this," Reding said. Centre-right opposition leader Berlusconi, who is banned from running for office in Italy or Europe because of a tax-fraud conviction, is appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.

His Forza Italia party has said he should be entitled to stand in the 22-25 May elections to the EP despite the conviction, his first binding one in 20 years of legal battles against magistrates he says are leftwing.

Some supporters have even suggested the ban should be lifted by President Giorgio Napolitano, although Berlusconi has ruled out asking for a pardon because it would be an admission of guilt.

Italy's ruling Democratic Party has insisted he cannot be considered above the law.

Italian judges are set to rule next month whether the 77-year-old media magnate should serve his one-year sentence under house arrest or doing community service.

In two separate cases, Berlusconi is appealing a seven-year term for paying an underage prostitute for sex and a one-year sentence for involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap that hurt a leftwing rival.

The charismatic conservative leader is also on trial for allegedly bribing a Senator to switch sides.