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Berlusconi says community service for tax fraud conviction beneath him

Dec. 5, 2013 at 11:58 AM

ROME, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says performing community service for his tax-fraud conviction is beneath him.

Berlusconi, speaking during a book launch in Rome, called performing community service "ridiculous" for both him and Italy, ANSA reported Wednesday.

"It is almost unthinkable that a citizen of my age, one who has been a businessman, the owner of a soccer team and a politician, should be considered in need of rehabilitation by talking to social workers," Berlusconi said.

The Senate last week voted to strip Berlusconi of his seat because of a tax fraud conviction he insists will be reversed. Berlusconi, 77, maintains the tax fraud conviction, which Italy's supreme court upheld during the summer, is politically motivated by left-wing elements in the judiciary who want to remove him from Italian politics.

Berlusconi was convicted Aug. 1 with several other defendants of using offshore companies in tax-haven countries to buy movie rights for his TV networks and grossly inflating the payment amounts to avoid $502 million in taxes.

He was sentenced to four years imprisonment, but three years were automatically pardoned, along with a public office ban for two years. Because he is older than 70, he was exempted from imprisonment and instead must do community service.

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