Berlusconi cleared to run for office

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose flamboyant presence has long dominated the nation’s politics, will be allowed to stand for political office again, an Italian court has ruled.

The Court of Milan on Friday granted Berlusconi “rehabilitation,” effectively lifting the ban on him re-entering politics that has been in place since his 2013 conviction for tax fraud. Under the so-called “Severino Law,” anyone sentenced to a jail term of more than two years is not allowed to run for public office.

The court’s decision may have come too late for Berlusconi this election cycle, though.

On Wednesday, he gave his blessing for the anti-immigrant League party to form a coalition government that does not include his Forza Italia party.

However, the ruling opens the door for the 81-year-old billionaire to run for office next time elections are held.

Ruling may be appealed

The chief prosecutor of Milan, Roberto Alfonso, is still considering whether to challenge the court’s decision, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

“We will read and evaluate,” Alfonso told reporters Saturday, adding that the court’s written decision had not yet been sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Milan.

Berlusconi has been Prime Minister four times for a total of nine years, longer than anyone since fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

He has been tried 22 times on charges ranging from tax evasion and bribery to corruption and association with the Cosa Nostra. Although he was given a four-year prison sentence in that case, he escaped with a year of community service in an old people’s home because in Italy, the over-70s don’t usually go to jail.