Former Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi found guilty of fraud
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was yesterday found guilty of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in prison, which was reduced to one year because of a law passed by Mr Berlusconi which aimed to reduce overcrowding of prisons.
The fraud relates to the purchase of television film rights by a company owned by Mr Berlusconi, Mediaset, which the company then re-sold at exaggerated prices. Although sentenced to one year in prison, Mr Berlusconi, 76, might not serve the one-year sentence because there will be two opportunities to appeal the verdict, which may take many years and no prison time is served until after the verdict is confirmed. Mr Berlusconi is also banned for three years from any political office.
The Secretary of Mr Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom party, Angelino Alfano, said the ruling confirmed there was "judicial persecution" against the former prime minister; while according to Antonio Di Pietro, one of Berlusconi's political rivals, "the truth has been exposed".
Mr Berlusconi resigned in November from his position as Prime Minister. He has in the past faced several allegations against him, including embezzlement, fraud, and bribery. A separate trial is currently underway in Milan over allegations he paid for sex with an under-age prostitute, Karima el Mahroug.