No govt repercussions in Berlusconi verdict, minister says

'I hope people keep their nerve' says Lupi

No govt repercussions in Berlusconi verdict, minister says

Rome, July 31 - Italy's transport minister said he did not believe the verdict expected Wednesday in ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's fraud case would have "repercussions" on the coalition government. "This government was born thanks to a sense of responsibility," said Maurizio Lupi, referring to the center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party, his own and Berlusconi's, and the center-left Democratic Party (PD), of Premier Enrico Letta. Since its formation in April, the unprecedented left-right government has been perceived as highly volatile for putting natural political enemies in the same executive. Members of Berlusconi's party have threatened to pull their support if their leader's four-year conviction and five-year ban from public office is upheld at the supreme Cassation Court in a fraud verdict anticipated Wednesday or Thursday, in what would be a definitive ruling on accusations of overseeing a system of manipulating film rights and setting up oversees slush funds to launder money. Due to an amnesty passed in 2006, Berlusconi would likely only serve one year of the prison term if convicted. If the PdL leaves the coalition, the government would collapse. "I hope that Berlusconi's sentence isn't upheld, that the sense of responsibility prevails, and that people keep their nerve," said Lupi, evoking the sense of bipartisanship that made the current government possible. "Without these fundamental conditions, the economic crisis will never end".

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