MILAN – Just two days after announcing he won’t run in spring elections, former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in prison Friday in a verdict that could see him barred from public office for five years.
Berlusconi, after dominating Italian politics for nearly two decades, was forced to resign as prime minister after failing to convince financial markets that he could come up with convincing reforms to shield Italy from Europe’s debt woes.
In the latest blow, the billionaire media mogul received the stiffest sentence among the four co-defendants convicted in a scheme that involved inflating the price his media empire paid for TV rights to U.S. movies and pocketing the difference.
The court also said Berlusconi, 76, could not hold public office for five years or manage any company for three years, penalties that would take force only if the conviction is upheld on two levels of appeal.
In a statement, Berlusconi’s lawyers condemned the verdict as “absolutely incredible,” and said they would appeal. Berlusconi is expected to remain free while the appeals are pursued.
Suicide bomber targets mosque
KABUL, Afghanistan – A suicide bomber killed at least 40 people in northern Afghanistan as he attacked prayer-goers leaving a mosque on one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar, according to a security official.
The attack on Eid al-Adha in Maimana, the capital of Faryab province, killed at least 40 people, many of them civilians, and wounded dozens, said Lal Mohammed Ahmadzai, a police spokesman. Eid al-Adha, the feast of sacrifice, is a day of prayer and celebration across the Muslim world.
There was no immediate claim for the attack.