Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in jail for tax fraud.
Silvio Berlusconi and others were accused of buying US film rights at inflated prices via two offshore companies under his control.
The former prime minister is expected to appeal against the verdict.
Silvio Berlusconi has faced a number of trials connected to his business affairs, but has either been cleared or cases have run beyond the judicial time limit.
In the case for which he was sentenced on Friday, prosecutors alleged that part of the money declared for the purchase of film rights was skimmed off to create illegal slush funds, reducing tax liabilities for Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset group.
The court handed Silvio Berlusconi a longer sentence than the three years and eight months requested by prosecutors.
It ordered him and nine other defendants to pay 10 million euros in damages and banned him from holding public office for three years.
Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in jail for tax fraud
Both the jail term and the ban would only take effect if the sentence is upheld by a higher court, Italian news agency Ansa reported.
The trial began six years ago and has been subject to repeated delays, in part because of an immunity law that protected Silvio Berlusconi while he was prime minister.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, has dominated Italian politics for most of the last 20 years.
He was forced to resign as the prime minister of a centre-right coalition last November, and recently said he had no plans to stand again in elections due next year.
Silvio Berlusconi has repeatedly claimed that he is a victim of persecution by a left-wing judiciary.
Italian judges have thrown out a bribery case against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, because it expired under the statute of limitations.
Silvio Berlusconi was accused of paying his former British tax lawyer, David Mills, to lie in court to protect his interests.
The case dates back to the 1990’s.
Silvio Berlusconi, who denies wrongdoing, says this and other court cases against him are all part of a politically-motivated smear campaign.
Italian judges have thrown out a bribery case against former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, because it expired under the statute of limitations
He is on trial separately on charges of tax fraud and sex with an under-age prostitute.
The prosecution alleged David Mills was given $600,000 to lie in court about Silvio Berlusconi’s business interests.
David Mills, who was not on trial, denies that any such payment was made.
In December David Mills told a court he was “deeply ashamed” for falsely claiming that Silvio Berlusconi had given him $600,000.
David Mills said the money had actually come from an associate he had not wanted to admit dealing with.
Of the other three cases Silvio Berlusconi still faces, potentially the most damaging for the former Italian leader involves Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby.
Prosecutors allege Karima El Mahroug attended several parties at Silvio Berlusconi’s residence last year and was paid for sex while she was still 17, an offence according to Italian law. Both she and the prime minister deny having sex. She says she did receive 7,000 Euros, but it was as a gift after a party.