Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted and sentenced to a year in jail over an illegal wiretap.
Italy’s former prime minister was accused of arranging for a police wiretap concerning a political rival to be leaked and published in a newspaper run by his brother.
Silvio Berlusconi is likely to appeal and will remain free in the meantime.
He is presently appealing against another conviction and faces two more verdicts in the coming weeks.
One of the rulings expected later this month is about tax fraud, and the other trial concerns allegations that Silvio Berlusconi paid for sex with an underage prostitute.
There is no real prospect of Silvio Berlusconi going to jail, but the conviction is another very serious blow to his reputation.
It comes weeks after his right-wing coalition did better than expected in a general election, and is expected to form a major bloc in the next parliament.
In October last year, Silvio Berlusconi was convicted in another tax fraud case and sentenced to a year in jail.
That conviction is currently subject to an appeal.
Prosecutors brought the wiretap case after a transcript of a phone conversation intercepted by the authorities was published in the newspaper Il Giornale, owned by Silvio Berlusconi’s brother Paolo.
The conversation took place between the head of insurer Unipol and Piero Fassino, who was the leader of the biggest centre-left party and Silvio Berlusconi’s biggest political rival at the time.
Unipol was trying to take over BNL bank in 2005. Magistrates had ordered the wiretap as part of an investigation into inappropriate interference in the takeover.
The publication of the transcript in a national newspaper broke secrecy rules, and Silvio Berlusconi was accused of obtaining the transcript from the wiretap company used by magistrates.
In numerous trials over the years, Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of charges including accounting fraud, perjury, bribery, corruption, having unlawful sex with a minor, and fraud over the sale of film rights.
Silvio Berlusconi says he is the target of a vendetta by politically biased prosecutors. He has denied all the accusations against him and has either been acquitted or let off under statutes of limitations.