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Montezemolo Calls for Calm on Berlusconi

Advises political allies to back Letta government and court verdict.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari and founder of the Italian centrist group Italia Futura, advised caution to political allies of Silvio Berlusconi in the wake of the upholding of the former prime minister’s conviction on tax fraud charges.

In a letter posted on Italia Futura’s Web site, the executive urged Berlusconi’s party, the PDL, not to endanger Italy’s shaky political balance and Italians to accept the determination of the Italian Court of Cassation, which last week upheld the former prime minister’s tax conviction.

“If the government falls because of the PDL [Berlusconi’s party], Berlusconi will end his political career in the worst possible way,” wrote Montezemolo, adding that it was crucial to maintain stability given Italy’s fragile economic situation. He also said that while one could debate the merit of the various accusations against Berlusconi, “when sentences reach the final level of the justice system, they must be respected.”

“Berlusconi can get through this situation if he keeps his cool, continues to loyally support the Letta government (as he as done until now, with greater conviction than the PD) and works to create a new, liberal center-right party, which Italy needs,” Montezemolo continued. 

“If, on the contrary,” he concluded, “Berlusconi decides to launch another attack against the country’s institutions and interests, no responsible political group or citizen with Italy’s future at heart could possibly support him or remain indifferent.”

The court handed down a four-year sentence to Berlusconi and reduced it to one year as part of a program to reduce prison overcrowding. At 76, he is considered likely to serve a term under house arrest or be assigned community service.