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Berlusconi’s conviction upheld

A ruling by Italy’s supreme court upholding a tax fraud conviction against former premier and centre-right leader  Silvio Berlusconi has left the fate of the country’s fragile ruling coalition resting in the balance.
Just three months after centre-left Prime minister Enrico Letta took office at the head of an uneasy coalition with  Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party ( PDL), Italy, the euro zone’s third largest economy, is again mired in uncertainty.

The 76-year-old billionaire reacted angrily to the decision by the supreme court to reject a final appeal against his  conviction, protesting his innocence and accusing magistrates of persecuting him since his entry into politics 20 years  ago.

The ruling, confirming a sentence for tax fraud involving inflated invoices at his Mediaset broadcasting empire, was the first definitive sentence he had received after dozens of previous trials on charges ranging from tax to sex offences.

‘No one can understand the real violence which has been directed against me,’ he said in a video message broadcast on Italian television after the verdict. ‘A genuine campaign of aggression that has no equal,’ he said.
Berlusconi is unlikely to have to serve any time in jail because of his age, but the ruling has dealt an unprecedented blow to the man who has dominated Italian politics for two decades.
Agencies

Agencies

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