Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi’s conviction for tax fraud has been upheld by an appeals court in Milan.
The court also reinstated a four-year prison sentence and five-year ban from public office Silvio Berlusconi was handed in October.
Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of artificially inflating prices of film distribution rights bought by his company, Mediaset, to avoid taxes.
He is now expected to appeal against Wednesday’s ruling at Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, has denied the charges and said they are politically motivated.
But instead of overturning October’s verdict, the Milan appeals court on Wednesday upheld his conviction for tax evasion and re-instated the original jail sentence. The four-year term had been cut to one year by a lower court because of his age.
“We knew it would go like this,” Silvio Berlusconi’s defense lawyer Niccolo Ghedini told reporters.
There is however no real prospect of Silvio Berlusconi being jailed, as he will exercise his right to appeal and the case will actually soon expire under a time limit.
Nevertheless, this is another major legal blow for Silvio Berlusconi, whose People of Freedom (PdL) party is part of Italy’s new coalition government.
In the eyes of the law Silvio Berlusconi is a convicted fraudster, but he will argue as he always does that all his legal troubles are the simply the work of his political enemies – left-wing elements in the judiciary.
In March, silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to a year in jail after being convicted of arranging for a police wiretap concerning a political rival to be leaked and published in a newspaper run by his brother. He denied the charges and is expected to appeal.
Silvio Berlusconi is also currently on trial for allegedly paying for sex with an underage prostitute, and later abusing his powers by putting pressure on the police to release her from custody. He has admitted sending her money, but insists the funds were meant as a gift.
In other trials over the years, Silvio Berlusconi has been accused of charges including accounting fraud, perjury, bribery and corruption. He has denied all the accusations against him and has either been acquitted or let off under statutes of limitations.
Silvio Berlusconi’s trials:
- Accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute: Verdict due
- Convicted and sentenced to a year in jail for arranging leak of police wiretap
- Accused of tax fraud over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films: Convicted in October 2012; Sentence upheld by appeals court in May
- Two other corruption cases involving tax evasion and bribery of a British lawyer: Expired under statute of limitations