On Friday, a court in Milan had sentenced the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, to 4 years of jail for crimes concerning tax fraud related to the acquisition of TV rights by his company Mediaset. He was also banned from public office for five years and ordered to pay €10m (£8.3m) to the Italian tax office, but these are just minor compared to a 4-year incarceration sentence. Nevertheless, as we now read, Berlusconi will most likely never see a prison cell in his life.
|Well I hope not! Source: http://www.soxfirst.com/|
The reasons are simple: In 2006, a centre-left government had introduced a 3-year amnesty for crimes committed before that year, which would mean that Berlusconi's sentence would essentially be reduced to 1 year. In addition to that, the former Prime Minister is entitled to two appeals before a definitive sentence. Given the speed of the Italian courts' this would probably never end, as the aforementioned trial lasted for about 6 years and the statute of limitations (a legal term stating that if a legal system has a statute, for example, limiting the time for prosecution of a debt or crimes designated as misdemeanors to two years after the offense occurred, under such, if a person is discovered to have committed a misdemeanor three years later, the time has expired for the person to be prosecuted.) of the Mediaset case will take effect in about a year from now. In addition as an Italian journalist has stated in The Guardian: "The fine and the ban on public office will only take effect after the final appeal, but if he is given a conclusive conviction, he will have to leave parliament. In Italy, you go to jail only if you receive three years, so if the sentence is cut to one, Berlusconi will not go to jail."
Well if you ask me, this is something more than ridiculous! We expect our citizens to respect the laws, nevertheless it takes 6 years to complete the trial of an "important" member of the society and it will probably take as long as that to reach a definitive conclusion. And he will not even be put in jail. This is not just for Berlusconi. The former Prime Minister is an example of a judicial system which does not function properly. People in Italy, Greece and Cyprus (and to a much lesser degree in Spain and Portugal) are certain that the rich will never pay for what they have done! And the courts do nothing else than to confirm this notion.
In another article, a commentator in The Guardian has stated that even though Berlusconi will never see the inside of a prison cell, the decision matters politically as its party now has much less support than before. He is implicitly stating that the Italians, fed up with corruption and paid politicians/policymakers/lawmakers will will make a better choice for leaders this time.
I am not sure of that. If Berlusconi, or any other "Berlusconi" for that matter, is allowed to walk away like nothing has happened, then what is the point of sentencing him? It is the same as politicians promising a million things and not doing even one. People are tired of this. They want credibility. They want a person who will say something, mean it, and then do it. Theories and political games are out-of-date. They want leaders and policymakers/lawmakers who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe and fight for it. They are not afraid of a corrupt system nor of the power of industrialists and businessmen.
This is the main reason why "Golden Dawn" has become so successful in Greece: they do what they say they will. (for an excellent article on Golden Dawn read Protesilaos Stavrou's article here or here) Even if I disagree with what they represent, what we must understand from their action is that people prefer honesty to anything else.
And this is exactly what must be done in the South. We need a system which we can trust, a system where even though some occasional members will be corrupted, we have to know that this will not be tolerated. But most of all we need honesty. We need people who they will say something, mean it and do it. We need more people like Giovanni Falcone and not like Silvio Berlusconi or the majority (if not all) of politicians in South.
And that is why Berlusconi needs to be sent to jail. To signify the end of an era of corruption, control of government by industrialists, and an era where money made a difference whether you could be behind bars or not. Let's hope that the people of Italy and the Italian courts make a stand on this.