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Napolitano's office says no pardon for Berlusconi

Ex-premier wants to run in European elections despite conviction

18 March, 16:11
Napolitano's office says no pardon for Berlusconi (ANSA) - Rome, March 18 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has no plans to pardon Silvio Berlusconi for his tax fraud conviction to allow the ex-premier to run in European Parliament elections in May, Napolitano's office said Tuesday. His office said it would neither "confirm nor deny" rumours on the subject.

Italy's centre-right opposition leader Berlusconi, who was banned from running for office in Italy or Europe because of a tax-fraud conviction late last year, has been appealing his conviction to the European Court of Human Rights.

However, on Monday European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding rejected Berlusconi's bid to run in the May European Parliament elections at the top of his Forza Italia party's candidate list. Berlusconi's Forza Italia party has said he should be entitled to stand in the May 22-25 elections to the EP despite the conviction.

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

The ruling last year marked the first definitive conviction for Berlusconi, 77, after more than 20 years of legal battles against magistrates that he says are left-wing and biased against him.

He has not accepted the tax conviction and has insisted he intends to stand for election to Europe'a parliament.

That won't be happening, warned Reding.

"I will not go into laws at the national level. But European law is very clear on this," Reding said.