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Berlusconi sentenced to prison for tax fraud

The former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, was convicted of tax evasion on Friday, and given a prison sentence of four years, reduced to one. He was also banned from holding public office for five years.

The conviction for tax evasion was in connection with Berlusconi's Mediaset television empire. He was accused of artificially inflating the price of film distribution rights bought by shell companies, and then selling the rights back to Mediaset.

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Silvio Berlusconi convicted of tax fraud

Berlusconi, who was not in court for the verdict, is expected to appeal. In Italy, cases must pass before two levels of appeal before judgments are made final.

After sentencing Berlusconi to four years in prison, the Milan court on Friday immediately cut the sentence to one year - under a 2006 amnesty law to reduce prison overcrowding in Italy.

It is the former prime minister's first conviction. Other trials and criminal investigations have ended in acquittal or have been thrown out.

Earlier this week Berlusconi said he would not stand as a prime ministerial candidate in elections next year.

jr/mkg (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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