Rome

Berlusconi 'will ask for pardon' says lawyer

'Sooner or later'

Berlusconi 'will ask for pardon' says lawyer

Rome, August 14 - A lawyer for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday he was "sure" the centre-right leader will ask President Giorgio Napolitano for a pardon on a tax-fraud conviction that would strip him of his Senate seat. "The pardon will be requested, sooner or later," said Piero Longo. Napolitano has said justice must be served but he would weigh the possibility of a pardon while respecting the independence of the judiciary. The president also stressed Tuesday that Berlusconi would not go to jail but serve the sentence under house arrest or doing community service. He warned of the "dramatic" effect on the ailing Italian economy if Italy's unprecedented left-right government falls because of the Berlusconi conviction, which he and his supporters say was politically motivated. Berlusconi backers took the president's statement to mean a pardon was likely but their uneasy coalition partners the Democratic Party thought the opposite, that he was saying the three-time premier must respect his first definitive conviction in more than 20 cases including alleged corruption, judge and witness buying and sex with an underage prostitute. With or without a pardon, media magnate Berlusconi is set to revamp his People of Freedom (PdL) party under its original banner, Forza Italia. His daughter and business heir Marina has ruled out leading it.

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