Lawyers for Silvio Berlusconi have asked the supreme court to throw out his conviction for tax fraud.
The former prime minister is set to hear later today whether the court will overturn a four-year jail sentence and a five-year ban from public office handed to him by a lower appeals court.
If the five judges uphold the sentence Italy’s fragile coalition government could be in turmoil. Politicians from both the centre-left Democratic Party and Berlusconi’s centre-right PDL party may refuse to continue in government together if he is convicted.
The politician was found guilty of artificially inflating the prices of TV rights bought by his company to avoid taxes.
At the age of 76, Berlusconi is unlikely to go to jail, he is more likely to face house arrest or community service if the conviction is upheld.
Our correspondent in Rome, Enrico Bona said: “In order to support Berlusconi during these longest hours the PDL has summoned his supporters. They will await the verdict in front of his Roman residence Palazzo Grazioli hoping the conviction will be overturned.”