December 19, 2014
Berlusconi starts community service at old people's home
Silvio Berlusconi entered a Catholic old people's home outside Milan today to begin community service as part of a one-year sentence for tax fraud.
Berlusconi, at 77 still the most influential politician of Italy's center-right, had a four-year jail sentence handed down last August commuted into an obligation to spend four hours a week for a year at a center for the elderly.
The billionaire media tycoon and former Italian prime minister arrived in the morning in a black sedan with darkened windows, wearing his trademark dark suit.
Ignoring around 200 Italian and foreign journalists, Berlusconi left bodyguards outside as he entered the Sacra Famiglia center, a sprawling structure caring for the elderly and mentally ill.
The obligation to do community service does not bar Berlusconi, who was expelled from Italy's Senate after the conviction, from campaigning for his Forza Italia party ahead of European Parliament elections this month.
Opinion polls suggest Forza Italia could command just short of 20 percent of the vote, making it Italy's third largest party after the center-left Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.
After completing the first six months of community service, Berlusconi's sentence of one year of community service will automatically be reduced to 10 1/2 a half months.