Berlusconi judge faces disciplinary proceedings

Esposito caused furore with interview on tax-fraud verdict

Berlusconi judge faces disciplinary proceedings

Rome, August 7 - The Italian judiciary's self-governing body, the CSM, opened disciplinary proceedings on Wednesday against Antonio Esposito, the supreme court judge who gave a controversial interview about last week's decision to uphold a tax-fraud verdict against ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi. The CSM's First Commission, which handles the transfer of magistrates for questions of incompatibility, has opened a probe into Esposito over an interview he gave that was published in Naples-based daily Il Mattino. Esposito, the head of the five-judge panel that upheld the ex-premier's conviction, has said Il Mattino manipulated parts of the interview to make it appear that he was commenting on the Berlusconi case, while the judge argues he was just speaking in general terms. Il Mattino said what it published was a faithful transcription of the interview. The interview was highly unusual as a court usually only comments on its sentences in a written explanation generally published over a month after the verdict is announced. Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri requested clarification from the supreme court over the interview. The president of the supreme Court of Cassation, Giorgio Santacroce, told ANSA that the interview was "inopportune". Berlusconi's supporters said the interview casts doubt on the legitimacy of the decision, arguing it lends credence to the ex-premier's claims he is the victim of persecution from politically motivated magistrates. Cassation sources, however, said that nothing can change the four-year jail sentence for Berlusconi - three years of which have been commuted because of an amnesty - as it is now definitive.

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