Berlusconi's sentence cut to one year
MILAN - Reuters
Former Italian PM Berlusconi is expected to appeal the decision.The sentence of the former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will be cut to one year due to a 2006 amnesty law aimed at reducing prison overcrowding, announced the Italian court which has sentenced him to four years in jail for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset television company.
Berlusconi has the right to appeal the ruling two more times before the sentence becomes definitive and will not be jailed unless the final appeal is upheld. Prosecutors had asked for a jail sentence of three years and eight months.
The court also ordered damages provisionally set at $13 million to be paid by Berlusconi and his co-defendants to tax authorities. The ruling comes two days after Berlusconi, 76, confirmed he would not run in next year’s elections as the leader of his center-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.
A separate trial over accusations that Berlusconi paid for sex with an underage prostitute is currently being heard in Milan. He denies all charges against him. The four-time prime minister and other Mediaset executives stood accused of inflating the price paid for TV rights via offshore companies controlled by Berlusconi, and skimming off part of the money to create illegal slush funds. The investigation focused on television and cinema rights that Berlusconi’s holding company Fininvest bought via offshore companies from U.S. groups for 470 million euros between 1994 and 1999.
Angelino Alfano, secretary of the PDL, said the ruling proved once again “judicial persecution” of the media-magnate, while political rival Antonio Di Pietro, a former magistrate, hailed the decision, saying “the truth has been exposed.”