Berlusconi gets one-year sentence over wiretap

Updated: Thursday, 07 Mar 2013 17:05

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to one year in prison over the publication by his family's newspaper of a transcript of a leaked wiretap connected to a banking scandal in 2006.

Italian justice system rules mean that the 76-year-old will not have to serve any jail time until the appeals process has been exhausted.

Berlusconi is in the middle of a series of trials.

Separate cases over charges of tax fraud and paying for sex with an underage prostitute are due to wind up this month.

Following today’s verdict, Berlusconi repeated denials that he was in any way connected with wrongdoing.

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He said the decision showed that politically motivated judges were conducting a campaign against him.

"It is impossible to tolerate judicial persecution of this kind which has been going on for 20 years and which re-emerges every time there are politically complex moments in the political life of our country," he said in a statement.

Berlusconi's brother Paolo, publisher of the family-owned Il Giornale daily, was sentenced to two years and three months over the same case.

The case centred on confidential wiretap transcripts related to a bank takeover, which appeared in the newspaper.

The court awarded €80,000 in damages to Piero Fassino, who was head of the main centre-left party at the time of the incident and whose remarks were caught on the wiretap and published in the newspaper.

Mr Fassino asserted that Il Giornale published the transcripts shortly before the 2006 election to create the impression that he had exercised improper pressure in the attempted takeover of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro by insurer Unipol in 2005.

Yesterday, Italy's highest appeals court upheld a ruling clearing Berlusconi of tax fraud in connection with his Mediatrade broadcasting rights firm.

The decision cleared the former leader of accusations that Mediatrade, the broadcast rights unit of his Mediaset group, acquired film and television rights at inflated prices to evade €10m in taxes in 2004.

His trial on charges of paying for sex with a juvenile prostitute is expected to wind up on 18 March.

A separate trial over broadcast rights is expected to conclude on 23 March.

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