Berlusconi fraud conviction upheld
ROME – For the first time in decades of criminal prosecution, a conviction against former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi finally stuck on Thursday, leaving the media mogul with a four-year prison sentence for tax fraud with all of his appeals exhausted.
But it’s highly unlikely the man who long was Italy’s most powerful politician will actually serve out the sentence behind bars.
Three years of his sentence will be shaved off as part of a general amnesty for crimes committed before 2006 aimed at easing prison crowding. And elderly defendants usually can serve out their sentences under house confinement.
And while upholding his tax fraud conviction, Italy’s supreme court ordered another court to recalculate the duration of a ban on holding public office that lower courts had set at five years. That could potentially reduce the time out of the limelight that threatens to interrupt, if not end, Berlusconi’s political career.
Berlusconi, at 76, remained defiant, if shaken. In a nine-minute video address, he denounced the sentence as baseless and insisted he is the innocent victim of “an incredible series of accusations and trials that had nothing to do with reality.”
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