Catch me if you can. Italy's Supreme Court confirmed the conviction of Silvio Berlusconi in the Mediaset case on Thursday, affirming the former Prime Minister's prison sentence. However, there the chances that Berlusconi will effectively go to jail are close to zero. Berlusconi is likely to benefit from a general amnesty law and his age, too, make it unlike that the politician will ever spend time behind bars.
Convicts older than 75 or those older than 60 whose sentence does not exceed four years in prison usually get their sentences reduced under Italian law. Seventy-six-year-old Berlusconi could thus be placed under house arrest, or request that his sentence be transformed into community service -- although that possibility inspired the concerned party to say he would prefer… prison.
And what about Rubygate? A Milan court sentenced Il Cavaliere to seven years in prison for abuse of power and paying for sex with nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug. Berlusconi immediately appealed, however, buying him enough time to -- at least temporarily - escape Italian justice.
In Europe, only Italy and Spain set an age limit for imprisonment. Article 92 of the Spanish code of criminal procedure states that prisoners over the age of 70, those who will turn 70 while serving their sentence, or those who suffer from an incurable disease are eligible for parole.
In Britain, it is possible to cite “humanitarian reasons” that may lead to the release of a prisoner, as decided by the Minister of the Interior. In France, however, a prisoner’s state of health is the only criterion that can be taken into account for granting a presidential pardon or obtaining a court ruling for parole.