Latest legal blow for Berlusconi again threatens political career

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Latest legal blow for Berlusconi again threatens political career

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Silvio Berlusconi is expected to appeal against his conviction for tax fraud before Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.

On Wednesday an appeals court in Milan upheld a four-year jail sentence and five-year ban from public office against the former Italian prime minister.

He was found to have inflated the price paid for television rights, enabling his company Mediaset to avoid tax.

“It’s a very bad judgment, a foregone conclusion. We were firmly convinced that this would be the Court of Appeal’s decision. It’s illogical to convict an individual who has no connection with a company,” said Niccolo Ghedini, Berlusconi’s lawyer.

Berlusconi has always denied the charges, arguing they are politically motivated. He is extremely unlikely to go to prison, but for one expert, there is an imminent threat to his political career.

“Should the Supreme Court confirm this kind of conviction, disqualification from public office will have immediate effect. It means that Berlusconi will lose immediately his role of deputy and any other public office,” said Maurizio Bellacosa, a criminal lawyer and professor at LUISS University in Rome.

In other trials over the years Berlusconi has either been acquitted or let off because time has run out.

In a separate case he is charged with paying for sex with an underage prostitute. The next hearing is scheduled for May 13.