Silvio Berlusconi Sentenced To Four Years For Tax Fraud
Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in prison:
MILAN (AP) — A court in Italy has convicted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi of tax fraud and sentenced him to four years in prison.
The conviction Friday was the 76-year-old media mogul’s first in a long series of trials, but it did not mean he was going to prison right away. Cases in Italy must pass two levels of appeal before the verdicts are final.
His lawyers declined to comment immediately, but the billionaire businessman is expected to appeal. Berlusconi wasn’t in the courtroom for the verdict on the case stemming from dealings in his Mediaset business empire.
A total of 11 people were on trial. Prosecutors had alleged that the defendants were behind a scheme to purchase the rights to broadcast U.S. movies on Berlusconi’s private TV networks in his Mediaset empire through a series of offshore companies and had falsely declared the payments to avoid taxes.
Berlusconi’s designated political heir as the head of the center-right party he leads, Angelino Alfano, blasted the verdict Friday as “incomprehensible” and said he was confident an appeals court would throw out the conviction.
In this and other cases against him, Berlusconi has described himself as the innocent victim of prosecutors he contends sympathize with the left. Up until now, other criminal investigation probes against him on charges including corruption had ended in acquittal or were thrown out for statute of limitations.
Of the other defendants, three were acquitted, including a close associate of Berlusconi, Fedele Confalonieri, chairman of Mediaset. Berlusconi and three others were convicted, including a Hollywood producer, Frank Agrama, who received a three-year sentence.
Four defendants were cleared because statute of limitations had run out.
Berlusconi, along with other defendants convicted in the case, must deposit a total of €10 million ($13 million) into a court-ordered fund as appeals, which could take years, proceed.
The trial began in July 2006, but was put on hold by a now-defunct immunity law that shielded the Berlusconi from prosecution while he was premier until it was watered down by the constitutional court. The trial also faced delays as Berlusconi cited conflicts with his schedule as premier
In the same courthouse on Friday, another criminal trial against Berlusconi was being held. He is charged in that case with paying for sex with an under-age girl and trying to cover it up. He denies wrongdoing
I’m guessing the Bunga Bunga Parties are at an end.