ROME - Silvio Berlusconi has been voted out of parliament by the Italian Senate, following his conviction in August for tax fraud in a case pertaining to Hollywood movie deals done by his Mediaset TV empire.
The Senate booted out the media-mogul-turned pol on Wednesday based on a 2012 law that bans anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison from holding or running for public office for six years.
The watershed vote is likely to prevent the three-time premier who, after entering Italian politics in 1994 became the country's most powerful pol, from holding a parliamentary seat of power again.
But while out of public office, Berlusconi, 77, remains head of his just relaunched Forza Italia party, now in the opposition.
During the tense vote Berlusconi's supporters gathered in front of his central Rome palazzo Wednesday for a massive rally, considered the start of Italy's next electoral campaign.
Stock in Mediaset, which is Italy's largest private broadcaster, closed 1.3 points up at 3.3 Euros in trading on the Milan bourse on Wednesday, an indication that Berlusconi's political undoing may not represent such a fatal blow for his company.
Mediaset on November 12 posted a net $36.3 million loss in the first nine months of 2013 due to Italy's still depressed ad market. But thanks to cost-cutting, the Berlusconi-controlled company appears to be gradually bouncing back after posting its first annual loss in 2012 since going public in 1996.
Whether Berlusconi himself - once known as the Teflon Don when the dozens of court cases against him never seemed to stick - will bounce back from this monumental blow is more doubtful.
While imprisonment is not likely, he now faces one year of community service due to the tax-fraud conviction.
The case that got Berlusconi kicked out of the Senate stems from â¬470 million ($678 million) in movie rights purchased by Mediaset from Hollywood studios, including Paramount and Fox, through offshore companies during the 1990s to allegedly evade taxes and create a slush fund.
And Berlusconi's legal woes aren't over. He has been indicted on charges of bribing a senator in an attempt to bring down former premier Romano Prodi's government in 2007. Berlusconi is also appealing a conviction handed down in June on charges of having sex with an underage girl and abusing his office to cover it up.
He denies the allegations in both cases.
More to follow...