Berlusconi Sentence Reduced to One Year

Former Italian premier is expected to appeal

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Oct 26, 2012 10:07 AM CDT | Updated Oct 26, 2012 2:40 PM CDT

(Newser) – A court in Italy has convicted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi of tax fraud and sentenced him to four years in prison—but the court quickly reduced the sentence to one year as part of a movement to reduce prison overcrowding, the Telegraph reports. In Italy, cases must pass two levels of appeal before the verdicts are final, and Berlusconi is expected to appeal. The 76-year-old wasn't in the courtroom today for the verdict on the case stemming from dealings in his Mediaset business empire.

Prosecutors had alleged that the defendants were behind a scheme to purchase the rights to broadcast US movies on Berlusconi's private TV networks through a series of offshore companies and had falsely declared the payments to avoid taxes. In this and other cases against him, Berlusconi has described himself as the innocent victim of prosecutors he contends sympathize with the left. He is also on trial in Milan on charges of having paid an under-age Moroccan teen for sex and trying to cover it up. Berlusconi, who stepped down in November, announced earlier this week that he would not run for a fourth term.

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi waves as he arrives at a court hearing in Milan, Italy, on Oct. 19.   (AP Photo/Gian Mattia D'Alberto, Lapresse)
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