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Berlusconi to fight for ideal judicial system

Silvio Berlsuconi says he feels obliged to stay in politics after a court sentenced him to prison for tax fraud. The former prime minister originally faced four years imprisonment, which was reduced thanks to an amnesty.

The 76-year-old, three-time Italian prime minister announced on Saturday he would not run in the upcoming national election in April. He did not rule out, however, withdrawing from politics altogether.

Earlier on Saturday, Berlusconi said he would "stay in the field," prompting speculation he had changed his mind after a Milan court convicted him of tax fraud on Friday.

"I feel obliged to stay in the field to reform the justice system," the former prime minister said of the very judicial system that sentenced him to jail.

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"This is an incredible and intolerable political sentence. This is no doubt a political verdict, as political as all trials fabricated against me," he told TG5 one of the television stations he owns.

After sentencing him to four years in jail, the Milan court on Friday reduced the sentence to one year after citing a 2006 amnesty law to reduce prison overcrowding in Italy. The ruling also banned Berlusconi from holding political office for five years.

Berlusconi's lawyers have said they will appeal the decision next month.

jlw/av (AFP, Reuters)

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