ROME: Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, reacting to a Milan court’s conviction for tax fraud, said on Saturday he would stay in politics.
Berlusconi told an Italian television interviewer that he felt “obliged to stay in the field” in order to protect other Italians from what he called judicial injustices.
But it was not clear if Berlusconi, now a member of the lower house of parliament, meant he would run for high office again or just stay on as an unelected political force of the centre-right.
“There will be consequences,” Berlusconi said, referring to his jail sentence on Friday – which will not be enforced until his appeals are exhausted.
“I feel obliged to stay in the field to reform the justice system so that what happened to me does not happen to other citizens,” he told Italy’s Channel Five television, part of his Mediaset empire.
The move came as a surprise because last Wednesday Berlusconi said he would not run in next year’s elections as the leader of his People of Freedom (PDL) party, ending almost 19 years as the dominant politician of the centre-right.
The court sentence included a five-year ban on running for political office but since the sentence does not become executive until all appeals are exhausted, Berlusconi can run for parliament in the next national elections in April.
The 76-year-old billionaire media magnate, who was convicted three times during the 1990s in the first degree before being cleared by higher courts, has the right to appeal the ruling two more times before the sentence becomes definitive.
Berlusconi has often accused magistrates of waging a political war against him.