I couldn’t tell you how many hundreds of times I’ve been asked questions along the lines of why I would ever want to put myself through the demanding efforts of studying international law, but every time I give the same two-word answer: “Silvio Berlusconi”.
Silvio Berlusconi was born on what I like to call Dooms Day: September 29, 1936, in my least favorite Italian city, Milan. Berlusconi has shockingly been the Prime minister of Italy not once, not twice, but three times, despite multiple convictions including charges of tax evasion and fraud (1988-1998), abuse of office (2005), bribery (2008), and most exciting, deficiting minors for sex (2010). Beyond that, the years these cases were brought to court are by no means indicative of how often Berlusconi actually committed these offenses. When Berlusconi is not busy sleeping with young girls or dining with known associates of major organized crime factions, he is also what is known as a “media tycoon”, owning assets including but not limited to: television, newspaper, publishing, cinema, finance, banking, insurance, and sports, all while being a political figure in Italy. Can you say conflict of interest? Imagine President Obama owning Fox News and the San Francisco Giants. But see, where this story really irks me to the point of choosing to engage in many grueling years of studying law, is the huge support he has in various parts of Italy and the world! People love him. Take note of the many medals and honors listed below:
Italy: Knight of the Order of Merit for Labour (1977–2014)
Holy See: Knight of the Order of Pius IX (2005)
Poland: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2002)
Latvia: Grand Officer of the Order of the Three
Libya: Recipient of the Al-Fateh Medal (2009)
Malta: Honorary Companion of Honour of the National Order of Merit (2004)
Norway: Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit (2001)
Romania: Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Star of Romania (2002)
Saudi Arabia: Member 1st Class of the Order of Abdulaziz al Saud (22 November 2009)
House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies: Knight Grand Cross of the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of Saint George
His political campaign Forza Italia, in 1994 won 21 percent of the vote, the highest percentage in any single party. Unlike that 21 percent, I am not convinced. My family moved to the United States from Naples twenty years ago in search of the “American Dream.” Although my copious amount of student loans versus the couple thousand I would be paying in Italy doesn’t exactly scream freedom, I know they made the right call. It is obvious that in the U.S. government and politics, as in all nations, a certain degree of corruption is present. However, in Italy, it is not only present–it dominates, especially with figures like Silvio Berlusconi in power. On a wiretapped phone call, Giuseppe Guttadauro, known boss of Cosa Nostra (Italian mafia) was quoted saying “Berlusconi, in order to solve his problems, has to solve ours.” Go figure.
So in answer to the aforementioned questions, it is not my undying passion for the application of law that has prompted my desire to study it; rather it is the unbearable weight of shame and guilt that I have when reflecting on the corruption so inherent in my home country. Everything that defines Italia, from the bad call made by a referee in a futbol match, to the the making of mozzarella, a dirty hand is in there somewhere. So, I demand justice, and I demand Silvio Berlusconi to be made accountable for his treachery against the state of Italy, and all others who like him, believe themselves to be above the law.
Berlusconi was most recently charged and convicted for tax fraud in 2013 and sentenced to four years in prison, but has yet to set foot behind bars. To make matters worse, last month the European Court of Human Rights (ECHU) agreed to hear his three appeals to the final verdict. My question now is how many times is Berlusconi going to prove himself to be the dirty politician that he is, before he is actually made to pay for his actions?