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Former Italian PM Berlusconi gets 1-year reduced sentence for fraud | THE JEENYUS CORNER

Italy’s former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. (AFP Photo / Andreas Solaro)

THE JEENYUS CORNER

(RT.com)- Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to four years in prison for tax evasion by a Milan court. His sentence was immediately reduced to one year under a 2006 amnesty plan to ease overcrowding in in Italian jails.

The court also ruled on Friday that Berlusconi is forbidden from holding any government post for three years.

His lawyer called the decision “incredible” and is hoping for a different ruling upon appeal.

Berlusconi decried what he claimed was a politicized verdict stemming from what he views as left-leaning magistrates while speaking on his Mediaset television station Friday.

“If you can’t count on impartial judges in a country, the country becomes uncivil, barbarian and unlivable and stops being a democracy. It’s sad, but the situation of our country today is that way,” he said.

The likelihood of Berlusconi actually spending time behind bars remains to be seen, as verdicts in Italy are only finalized after passing through two stages of appeal. The fact that three-years were immediately shed from his sentence has served to deflate his opponents hoping that charges would eventually stick after the ex-PM’s long and seemingly never-ending legal troubles.

The statute of limitations in the current case is set to expire at some point next year.

Berlusconi and 10 other defendants were charged with a scheme to purchase the television rights for US movies to be broadcast on the three time premier’s private television networks via a complex web of offshore companies. The prosecution says Berlusconi and his partner Fedele Confalonieri then falsely declared payments to their Mediaset TV company to avoid paying taxes.

They were also accused of artificially inflating prices for the TV rights of some 3,000 firms which were relicensed on Berlusconi’s networks, earning 250 million euro in illegal profits in the process.

The ruling in protracted 6-year legal battle comes two days after Berlusconi, 76, announced he would not run to reclaim his former position as Italy’s prime minister in upcoming parliamentary elections.

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