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Berlusconi jail term confirmed, sets stage for crisis in Italy

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GUILTY. A file photo dated 12 December 2012 shows former Italian Prime Minister Minister Silvio Berlusconi during the presentation of a new book by Italian journalist Bruno Vespa, in Rome, Italy. Photo by EPA/Alessandro di Meo

Italy’s top court convicts former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for tax fraud, confirming his prison sentence and shaking up the country’s fragile political scene. In an emotional video message broadcast on Italian television, Berlusconi says the verdict was “based on nothing at all.” He adds, “In exchange for all my commitment, I have been rewarded with accusations…This is a country that does not know how to be just”. The court upholds a sentence for tax fraud of four years in prison of which three are covered by an amnesty. Berlusconi is charged with avoiding taxes from his business empire Mediaset, which bought rights to broadcast movies through a series of offshore companies. The court also orders an appeals court to consider a possible temporary ban from holding public office for Berlusconi, which would eject him from the Senate. Thursday’s verdict was Berlusconi’s second and final appeal in the case, which first went to trial in 2006. He is also appealing convictions in other cases for having sex with an underage prostitute, abusing his prime ministerial powers and leaking a police wiretap to damage a political rival.

Read more on Rappler and NY Times.

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