By Kourosh Ziabari
Silvio Berlusconi is an internationally renowned figure, but not for his good reputation as an upright and respectable statesman, rather as a notorious man who can be called one of the most corrupt politicians of the world in all terms.
An unflappable and defiant politician who has accumulated a collection of criminal charges for which he hasn't been held accountable so far, Berlusconi is approaching the first stages of punishment for several crimes he committed during his three terms of premiership in Italy.
According to Forbes magazine, he is the 74th richest man in the world with a net worth of $9 billion. Being the third richest man in Italy, Berlusconi owns assets in the fields of television, newspapers, publishing, cinema, finance, banking, insurance and sports. His main business is Mediaset which comprises three national television channels that collectively cover a half of the national television sector. Italy's largest publishing house, Arnoldo Mondadori Editore also belongs to him. Before entering the world of politics, he managed several successful business projects including Milano 2, a huge residential project of about 10,500 apartments. In 1978 he established his first media group Fininvest and earned up to €58.3 million through this enterprise.
But this prosperous and well-off man who is considered to be the longest-serving head of G8 group has irrefutable criminal offenses which have blackened his performance sheet incorrigibly.
There are evidences which indicate that Berlusconi has had close relations with the Sicilian Mafia, known as Cosa Nostra, which is a criminal syndicate that emerged in mid 19th century in Sicily. According to the UK's Daily Telegraph, the allegations of Berlusconi's connection with mafia intensified when he entered politics in the early 1990s and became Prime Minister for the first time in 1994. In an in-depth report which elaborately discussed Berlusconi's underground relations with mafia, Daily Telegraph wrote: "[In 1974] Mr. Berlusconi lays the foundations for what will become a multi-billion pound fortune by building a housing development called Milano II on the outskirts of Milan. [There were] claims that Sicily's "Cosa Nostra" invested heavily in the project. The allegation was most recently repeated in a court in Sicily in February this year when Massimo Ciancimino, the son of a Mafia don, said the mob gave Mr Berlusconi the huge amount of capital he needed to build the complex, by laundering dirty money through a series of front companies."
Daily Telegraph's report added that Berlusconi struck a financial deal with Cosa Nostra one year before entering politics and becoming Prime Minister. "The allegations were again aired in a maximum security court in Turin in Dec 2009, by Gaspare Spatuzza, a mafia pentito, or turncoat.
He also made the incendiary claim that Mr. Berlusconi had provided support for a spate of deadly bombings by the mafia in 1993, in return for political support."
According to Daily Telegraph, in 2004, a founding member of Berlusconi's Forza Italia party named Marcello Dell'Utri was convicted of complicity with mafia and condemned to 9 years in prison. Although his imprisonment was later reduced to seven years, the court of appeal verified the assertions that Mr. Dell'Utri arranged for mafia protection for several companies run by Silvio Berlusconi.
However, cooperation with mafia and terrorist groups is a simple instance of Berlusconi's scandals. His extensive record of false accounting, tax fraud, corruption and bribery of police officers and judges are almost known to everyone in Italy.
He was summoned to court hearings several times after the Constitutional Court of Italy ruled in October 2009 that a law which Berlusconi had pushed through parliament after coming to power giving himself immunity from prosecution was invalid and unacceptable.
According to a report published by The Sunday Times on October 27, 2009, Berlusconi was accused of tax fraud and false accounting over the acquisition of TV rights by Mediaset, the television company which he owns, and should have attended a trial over the allegations which were directed at him; however, he evaded the court hearings several times, claiming that he was busy with "constitutional duties". As said by The Sunday Times, Berlusconi had offered $600,000 in bribes to an English tax layer named David Mills to give false testimony on his behalf in corruption trials in the 1990s. Following the revelation of this unprecedented debacle, David Mills was sentenced to 4 years and six months in prison while Berlusconi survived imprisonment thanks to the impunity law.
Berlusconi has declared himself "the most persecuted man in the world". Who knows, maybe the more correct explanations could have been "the most prosecuted man in the world!"
Lo and behold, Mr. Berlusconi who is turning into a man of scandals was scolded last week as a number of Milan prosecutors submitted to the Italian parliament a dossier containing statements, reports and wiretap transcripts which depicted extravagantly sordid scenes of Berlusconi's immoral affairs with Italian girls. The Economist reported on January 20th that the documents gathered by the Italian lawyers portrayed "orgiastic parties staged at the home of Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, involving more than 20 half-naked women, and a room for what are known to participants as "Bunga Bunga" sessions, equipped for pole-dancing, with wardrobes full of skimpy nurses' and policewomen's uniforms."
As the Italian parliament has recently abolished the law of immunity for the Prime Minister, it can be expected that Silvio Berlusconi may stand trial and be held responsible over his countless crimes and wrongdoings.
Berlusconi who is known for his reckless and unfounded remarks about the internal affairs of other countries is now at the verge of losing his political, social and international credibility and his recent sex scandal shows that he lacks the proper prestige and decency to assume the office of a Prime Minister.