Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Air Algerie investigation continues

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

  • Kerry, Ban announce 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

Europe

Berlusconi begins community service with Alzheimer's patients

© Photo: AFP

Video by Mark THOMPSON

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-09

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi began his community service sentence for tax fraud at a hospice for Alzheimer's patients near Milan on Friday.

The 77-year-old billionaire tycoon, who was convicted last year and has been expelled from parliament, arrived at the Sacra Famiglia hospice in Cesano Boscone to heckles from a trade unionist in a clown hat who shouted: "To prison!"

"We Italian workers have one dream in our hearts: Berlusconi in San Vittore!" he shouted, referring to a Milan prison, before being led away by police.

Berlusconi was initially sentenced to four years in prison, later reduced to one. But he was spared jail thanks to lenient sentencing guidelines in Italy for over-70s found guilty of non-violent crimes.

His sentence will seeat the hospice once a week for up to a year.

The Catholic Church-run hospice has said it will not allow Berlusconi to use his stint for political grandstanding in front of the world's media and will treat him like any other volunteer.

The disgraced politico has dominated Italian politics for two decades and is campaigning for his Forza Italia party in upcoming European Parliament elections, even though his own candidacy has been barred. The party is expected to get 20 percent of the vote.

Massimo Restelli, head of the hospice's care services, told the La Repubblica daily that Berlusconi's introduction would be "gradual" so that he and the elderly patients can get used to each other.

"It will be small steps so as not to make any mistakes. And then he could do all sorts of things. He could help with meals, which are tricky because sometimes you have to 'remind' the patient that they are eating," he said.

"We ask everyone including Berlusconi to observe, to listen and not to get performance anxiety," he said, adding that the media magnate would be accompanied at all times by a medical worker specialised in Alzheimer's.

"We'll see if Berlusconi's presence creates some kind of close bond, if he is a reference for anyone. The guests do remember things, even if that seems absurd to people who do not know the illness," he said.

Berlusconi: 'big surprise' ahead

Berlusconi says he has been studying treatments for the disease in order to better assist patients.

"I think in the end I will stay a lot longer than I have to. I have a big surprise prepared. It took me just ten days to learn the different cure methods that can be used," the 77-year-old told a radio show.

The sentence is seen as part of a slow-moving disintegration of Berlusconi as a political force, with Forza Italia divided by bickering and top allies indicted for mafia ties and corruption.

It was Berlusconi's first definitive criminal conviction and could herald more legal troubles ahead as he appeals a sentence for abuse of power and having sex with an underage prostitute.

He is also a defendant in a trial for bribing a former left-wing senator to undermine a rival party in power at the time.

The tax fraud case has highlighted delays in Italy's justice system since the investigation began back in 2001 with police raids on offices of his media empire Mediaset when he was prime minister.

He was first convicted in 2012 and lost his final appeal last year in a case that centred on fraudulent methods used to purchase film distribution rights in order to avoid paying taxes in Italy.

Berlusconi, who has continually protested his innocence, has said he was happy with the community service sentence.

"I'm actually pleased because in my life I have always helped people," he said.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

Date created : 2014-05-09

  • ITALY

    Berlusconi sentenced to community service for tax fraud

    Read more

  • ITALY

    Berlusconi asks to dodge house arrest by helping disabled

    Read more

  • ITALY

    Italy’s top court upholds public-office ban for Berlusconi

    Read more

COMMENT(S)