The Italian Senate has expelled former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as a result of his tax fraud conviction, upheld on appeal at Italy's highest court in August. The former premier spoke of a "bitter day."
Even before the Senate's decision to expel him on Wednesday, Berlusconi had anticipated the decision and delivered a statement to supporters outside his home in Rome.
"We are here on a bitter day, a day of mourning for democracy," he said earlier in the day.
The decision by the Senate is effective immediately.
"The conclusions of the committee on elections have been approved, abolishing the election of senator Silvio Berlusconi," Senate speaker Pietro Grasso said.
The media mogul and three-time prime minister is unlikely to serve his official sentence of four years in prison due to tax fraud owing to his age; the 77-year-old is considered likely to serve a period of either house arrest or community service instead. A Monday evening meal with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin, an old friend, fueled speculation in Italy that Berlusconi might seek to leave for Russia.
Berlusconi is also in the process of appealing separate convictions on charges of abuse of power and soliciting sex from an underage prostitute. The veteran politician denies the charges against him and claims he is the victim of a conspiracy.
mz/av (dpa, AFP, Reuters)