Berlusconi Reports for Duty at Hospice

Former Italian PM begins community service with Alzheimer's patients
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2014 5:59 AM CDT
Berlusconi Reports for Duty at Hospice
A protester is carried away by authorities in Cesano Boscone, near Milan, Italy, Friday, May 9, 2014.   (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Silvio Berlusconi headed to a hospice today ... to begin his community service for tax fraud. The former Italian prime minister was initially handed a four-year jail sentence, but it was dropped to a one-year term—now to be spent working one day a week with Alzheimer's patients. Berlusconi, who says he spent 10 days reading up on the disease, chose community service over house arrest, the BBC reports, a move that will still allow him to lead his Forza Italia party in upcoming elections. He also has a nightly curfew.

Berlusconi, 77, will be treated like any other assistant and will be with an Alzheimer's specialist at all times, says the Catholic care home outside Milan. "It will be small steps so as not to make any mistakes, and then he could do all sorts of things. He could help with meals, which are tricky because sometimes you have to 'remind' the patient that they are eating," a rep tells La Repubblica. As for how Berlusconi feels about the work: "I think that in the end I will stay a lot longer than I have to," he said recently, per the Guardian. "I have a big surprise ready." (More Silvio Berlusconi stories.)

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