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Still stuck in economic crisis, Italy again sets back date to balance budget; now aim is 2016

ROME - Italy has again pushed back its balanced-budget goal, now aiming for 2016. Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan wrote to the European Commission this week, saying that because of Italy's stubborn economic crisis, it's now aiming for a balanced structural budget in 2016. In 2011, then-Premier Silvio Berlusconi had promised that Italy would balance its budget by 2013. But with the country mired in recession, in 2012, during economist Mario Monti's government, the date was rolled back to 2015.

Ex-premier Berlusconi says he's happy court ordered him to aid elderly after fraud conviction

ROME - Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi says he's glad a Milan court ordered him to help the elderly as part of his punishment for a tax fraud conviction. The 77-year-old media mogul spoke to reporters Thursday about a court order earlier in the week that he must spend four hours assisting at a centre for the elderly in northern Italy. His four-year sentence for the conviction had earlier been reduced to one year under an amnesty to reduce prison overcrowding. Because of his age, the court had the option of giving him a year's house arrest or ordering community service.

Berlusconi 'pleased' to do community service with needy

Italy's former premier and billionaire tycoon Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday he was happy to do his community service in a centre for disabled and elderly people and would do his best to be helpful. "The court has obliged me to dedicate part of my time to people in need. I'm actually pleased because in my life I have always helped people," Berlusconi told journalists at a press conference in Rome to launch his centre-right party's EU election campaign.

Turkey may clinch bid to dismantle Italy shipwreck

Turkey may clinch a bid to dismantle the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship, Italy's civil protection agency said Thursday, adding that the decision on which port will be used will be taken in May. Italian ports are fighting off competition from ports in Britain, France, Norway and Turkey for the contract to scrap the carcass of the vast Concordia, which sank off Italy in 2012, leaving 32 people dead.

Turkey may clinch bid to dismantle Italy shipwreck

Turkey may clinch a bid to dismantle the wrecked Costa Concordia cruise ship, Italy's civil protection agency said Thursday, adding that the decision on which port will be used will be taken in May. Italian ports are fighting off competition from ports in Britain, France, Norway and Turkey for the contract to scrap the carcass of the vast Concordia, which sank off Italy in 2012, leaving 32 people dead.

Detained Berlusconi ally in Beirut hospital

An Italian ex-senator and ally of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who was arrested in Lebanon at the weekend was hospitalised in Beirut on Wednesday, his lawyer said. Marcello Dell'Utri "was transferred to the Al-Hayat hospital on the prosecutor's orders because he suffers from heart problems", lawyer Nasser al-Khalil said. The 72-year-old, who is on the run over charges of mafia ties, was being guarded by police at the hospital in southeastern Beirut.

Finmeccanica shares drop sharply after Italian government announces new CEO

MILAN - Investors signalled concern Tuesday at a change of leadership at the scandal-plagued Finmeccanica defence contractor as part of sweeping management changes announced by Italian Premier Matteo Renzi at four strategic state-backed firms. Renzi swept aside current executives at oil giant Eni, the Enel power company, the Italian postal service and Finmeccanica, in a bid for renewal. He also placed more women on the company boards, raising the quotient to almost one-third, although none was placed in charge of operations as CEO.

Berlusconi ordered to do community service for tax conviction

By Ilaria Polleschi and Silvia Aloisi MILAN (Reuters) - A court on Tuesday ordered former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to serve a tax fraud sentence by doing community service with the elderly, in a ruling that restricts his movements but not his political activity. The Milan court ruled Berlusconi, one of Italy's richest men, must spend at least four hours a week in an old people's home for one year.

Italian court delays ruling for Berlusconi ally

Italy's top court on Tuesday said it was delaying a ruling for a key political ally of Silvio Berlusconi, after both the lawyers of former senator Marcello Dell'Utri said they were sick. The judge said the Dell'Utri hearing -- which concludes a legal case that has lasted for more than two decades -- will now be held on May 9. The hearing is the ex-senator's second and final appeal in a case in which he was accused of serving as a mediator between Italy's former prime minister and the Sicilian Mafia.

Italian court delays ruling for Berlusconi ally

Italy's top court on Tuesday said it was delaying a ruling for a key political ally of Silvio Berlusconi, after both the lawyers of former senator Marcello Dell'Utri said they were sick. The judge said the Dell'Utri hearing -- which concludes a legal case that has lasted for more than two decades -- will now be held on May 9. The hearing is the ex-senator's second and final appeal in a case in which he was accused of serving as a mediator between Italy's former prime minister and the Sicilian Mafia.
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