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Italy appeals court upholds Berlusconi tax fraud conviction

A Milan appeals court on Wednesday upheld the tax fraud conviction of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], affirming his four-year sentence. He was convicted [JURIST report] in October on charges that his media empire Mediaset [corporate website, in Italian] purchased television rights for US movies through offshore companies and falsely declared the costs on its taxes. The appeals court upheld that ruling [SkyTG24 report, in Italian]. Berlusconi could now appeal to the highest court, the Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian]. Both the prison term and a five-year ban on taking political office will not take effect until all of his appeals are exhausted, and experts agree that it is unlikely Berlusconi will serve any jail time [AFP report].

Berlusconi is a defendant in several other cases. In March a Milan court sentenced him to one year in prison [JURIST report] for publicly releasing private wiretaps in 2005. In particular, Berlusconi's sentence stems from his conviction of publishing the transcript of a tapped phone conversation in Il Giornale [media website], a national newspaper owned by his brother Paolo. Berlusconi is also Berlusconi is charged [JURIST report] with paying then 17-year-old dancer Karima "Ruby" El Mahroug for sex and abusing his power by asking police to release her after she was detained for an unrelated theft crime. The next hearing in that case is set for next week.

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