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Italy court orders Berlusconi to perform community service at center for elderly

[JURIST] An Italian court ruled [ANSA report] Tuesday that former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile] must perform community service at a home for the elderly as his sentence for tax fraud [JURIST report]. The order was requested by Berlusconi, a three-time prime minister, media magnate and billionaire, as a way to serve the remaining year of a four-year sentence, the first three years having been covered by amnesties. Berlusconi, 77, is legally considered too old to serve prison time and would have been subjected to house arrest had he not consented to community service. He has been assigned to work at a center run by the Fondazione Sacra Famiglia [official website, in Italian] Catholic foundation in the Lombardy region of Milan one day a week for at least four hours. The court has also restricted Berlusconi's travel, requiring him to remain in the Lombardy region of Italy, allowing him to travel only to Rome Tuesday through Thursday of each week. Berlusconi had already been required to relinquish his passport and has since twice been denied international travel.

Tuesday's court ruling is the latest in the legal drama that has plagued [JURIST news archive] Berlusconi for several years. Having been a defendant [JURIST report] in nearly 50 cases, Berlusconi has avoided prison through successful appeals and expired statute of limitations. He has, however suffered much political fallout as a result of his criminal charges. With regard to Berlusconi's most recent legal struggles, last month, an Italian high court upheld [JURIST report] a two-year ban from public office for Berlusconi as a result of his tax-fraud conviction. For the same reason, the Italian Senate expelled [JURIST report] Berlusconi from parliament last November, removing his immunity and making him prone to prosecution for other crimes. In October 2013, Berlusconi was ordered [JURIST report] to stand trial for allegedly bribing a senator to switch political parties. The previous June, Berlusconi was convicted [JURIST report] of paying a 17-year-old dancer for sex while he was in office and for abusing his power by asking police to release her. In March 2013, Berlusconi was convicted [JURIST report] of breaking secrecy rules by publishing the transcript of a taped phone conversation between him and a political rival.

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