Wednesday, May 8, 2013

 

Italian court upholds Berlusconi 4-year fraud conviction


MILAN, Italy.- An appeal court in Italy's Milan on Wednesday upheld former premier Silvio Berlusconi's four-year conviction for tax fraud on broadcasting rights bought by his television company.

Berlusconi was sentenced last October to four years and banned from public office for five for tax fraud with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company.

However, due to a 2006 amnesty law, he will not have to serve three of the four years of his verdict.

The appeal court also upheld damages set at 10 million euros (13 million U.S. dollars) that Berlusconi and his co-defendants will have to pay to Italian tax authorities.

"We were aware that the ruling would end up this way ... the sentence's weight has gone beyond the facts' weight," Berlusconi's lawyer Niccolo Ghedini was quoted as saying by local media.

The 76-year-old three-time premier and media entrepreneur will reportedly appeal to the supreme court.

Berlusconi is also on trial for allegedly having sex with an underage prostitute and using his power to cover it up, and appealing a one-year term for publishing an illegal wiretap.

He has always denied any wrongdoing in the ongoing and several other previous trials, claiming that he was the victim of a group of biased left-wing prosecutors and judges.

Berlusconi's center-right People of Freedom (PdL) party came second in the Feb. 24-25 national elections and has a key position in the new Italian left-right government.

Asked if the appeals verdict could impact the coalition's stability, Ghedini said he did not believe that there was "any correlation."

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