(see related) Rome, July 11 - The stability of the Italian government "is not at risk" over ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's legal woes, the European affairs minister said Thursday. "All the explicit political signs we're receiving are in the spirit of guaranteeing solidity to the government," said Enzo Moavero Milanesi, a political independent. Concerns are high that the fragile stability of the unprecedented left-right coalition is at risk over Berlusconi's latest legal setback. On Wednesday the party secured a one-day halt to parliamentary business to discuss its reaction to a supreme Cassation Court decision to start hearings in just three weeks in a case where the media mogul is appealing a four-year jail term and a five-year ban from public office. The three-time premier is appealing a four-year term for inflating film-rights purchases at his Mediaset media empire, cut to one for an amnesty, as well as a five-year ban from public office. As he is over 70 he would not serve the year in prison if definitively convicted but have to do social work. However the ban would kick in if, as usually happens, parliament ratifies it. Senate Whip Renato Schifani on Thursday repeated threats by Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party to pull its support and topple the government if the ban is upheld.
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di Giovanni Pastore