Milan appeals court upholds Berlusconi tax fraud conviction

Ex-prime minister will not face sentence if final appeal succeeds

An Italian court upheld a conviction against former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud today. Photograph: Max Rossi/Files/Reuters.

An Italian court upheld a conviction against former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud today. Photograph: Max Rossi/Files/Reuters.

Wed, May 8, 2013, 19:51

A Milan appeals court today upheld the conviction of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud in a film-rights case involving his Mediaset SpA television company.

An audio of the judge’s ruling was transmitted by SkyTG24. The verdict carried a four-year prison sentence when Berlusconi was convicted by the lower court in October.

Berlusconi will not face imprisonment unless the conviction is upheld on a final appeal, which must be completed before the statute of limitations expires.

That deadline is in July of next year, Corriere della Sera reported.

Today’s ruling comes as the three-time premier plays a key role in supporting the new government led by prime minister Enrico Letta.

Berlusconi has accused prosecutors of trying to destroy him politically and has said he has spent more than €400 million on his legal defense in more than a dozen corruption trials since he entered politics in 1994.

Berlusconi is also standing trial in Milan on unrelated charges of paying for sex with a minor and abusing the power of his office. He has denied allegations in all cases against him.

The charges in the Mediaset case stem from before Berlusconi entered politics, when he was still actively managing the company, which he founded.

Judges earlier today rejected a request from lawyers of the media tycoon-turned-politician to delay the trial.

On Monday, Italy’s highest court in Rome rejected a separate request to move the trial to Brescia from Milan, both in the northern region of Lombardy. The court rejected the lawyers’ claim that the Milan court was biased.

Bloomberg