Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been expelled from the Italian parliament following his conviction for tax fraud.The veteran politician, nicknamed "Il Cavaliere", dressed in black and called it a day of mourning for democracy.
Europe Correspondent Emma Murphy reports:
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been expelled from the Italian parliament following his conviction for tax fraud.
This fraud has been examined by three different Italian courts, including the high court. Today the Italian Senate voted to strip him of his seat as the convictions were upheld.
The Italian Senate Committee has voted to recommend the expulsion of Silvio Berlusconi from the Senate after being convicted of tax fraud, according to Reuters.
The Committee added that it will present its recommendation to expel the former prime minister within 20 days.
Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has retreated in his attempt to force a vote of confidence in the Italian government.
Berlusconi had forced the vote by demanding that five government ministers from his party, the People of Freedom Party (PDL), pull out from the administration.
But Berlusconi withdrew his demand after it became clear that several of his senators would vote with the government on the motion, and he now says he will also support the government.
ITV News Europe Editor James Mates said Berlusconi had been forced into "a humiliating defeat" after trying to bring down the government.
"Berlusconi will be kicked out of Parliament on Friday, after today his era is over," Mates said. "Italy will be a duller but better and more moral place."
Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta has accused Silvio Berlusconi of telling a "huge lie" after the former PM pulled his ministers out of the country's ruling coalition.
Mr Berlusconi said the withdrawal was caused by Mr Letta violating coalition agreements by freezing government activities, which he said had set off an increase in sales tax.
Mr Letta, though, said Mr Berlusconi was using the sales tax issue as cover for actions that were actually motivated by his own legal problems.
Italy's president, Giorgio Napolitano, has called for a resolution to avoid a return to the polls.
Tensions between the two sides of Silvio Berlusconi and Prime Minister Enrico Letta have been mounting for weeks following moves to expel Berlusconi from parliament after his conviction for tax fraud last month.
The decision taken by Prime Minister Enrico Letta to freeze government activities... is a serious violation of the pacts on which this government was formed.
This week PDL lawmakers threatened to walk out of parliament if he is expelled from the Senate over the conviction.
Italian centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi pulled his ministers out of the ruling coalition on Saturday, effectively bringing down the government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta and leaving Europe's third-largest economy in chaos.
The announcement, which will likely lead either to new elections or the formation of a new coalition, came a day after Letta challenged Berlusconi's party to support him in a confidence vote in parliament following weeks of tension.
Late on Friday, the cabinet failed to agree vital fiscal measures to bring the budget deficit within European Union limits, leaving the fragile coalition of traditional rivals from the left and right near total breakdown.
Government ministers in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's political party in Italy have announced their intention to resign their posts, a move that raises tension in the uneasy coalition government and increases the possibility of early elections.
Vice Premier Angelino Alfano's spokeswoman said the five ministers from Mr Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom Party have decided to submit their resignations.
Today's announcement came hours after Mr Berlusconi urged ministers in his party to step down, citing the government's decision to raise Italy's value added tax.
Silvio Berlusconi's political career looks to nearing an end tonight after the Italian senate reportedly voted to expel the former prime minister from parliament.
Mr Berlusconi addressed the nation ahead of the vote, calling on them to protest in his defence insisting he is "innocent" of tax fraud.
The vote brings an end to the former Italian prime minister's colourful and controversy-filled political career as ITV News' Europe Editor James Mates reports:
Silvio Berlusconi has vowed to stay at the heart of Italian politics even if he is expelled from government over a fraud conviction.
In a long-awaited television address ahead of Senate announcement on his future in Italy's parliament, the former prime minister said:
"I will always be with you, at your side, expelled from parliament or not. It is not the parliamentary seat that makes a leader."
The 76-year-old billionaire insisted he was "absolutely innocent" of tax fraud, before accusing judges of plotting against him to pervert democracy.