Rome

Monti not opposed to pardoning Berlusconi

'Would help overcome hateful partisanship' says ex-premier

Monti not opposed to pardoning Berlusconi

Rome, August 27 - Former premier Mario Monti on Tuesday said he was not opposed to his predecessor Silvio Berlusconi receiving a presidential pardon for a tax-fraud conviction. "Personally...I don't find it particularly scandalous, nor incompatible with the rule of law, to eventually pardon (Berlusconi)," said Monti in an interview with the daily Il Foglio. Monti, an economist and former European commissioner, was nominated in an emergency measure to replace Berlusconi at the end of 2011 when a peak in the euro crisis threatened a Greece-style financial meltdown in Italy. He now leads the centrist and largely Catholic formation of reformers that make up a small part of Premier Enrico Letta's fragile left-right government. Its stability has been made even more volatile by threats from Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party to topple it if the three-time premier's ban from office is upheld following his first-ever binding criminal conviction early this month for manipulating film rights at his Mediaset media empire. The Senate, where the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) holds a narrow majority, will decide next month whether to ratify stripping Berlusconi of his Senate seat. Many have speculated that President Giorgio Napolitano could decide to pardon Berlusconi, especially if the tycoon first chose to step down from the Senate voluntarily, in an effort to shore up government stability. Doing so, according to Monti, would help "overcome the partisanship of hate and scorn" rife in Italian politics.

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