Berlusconi Sentenced To 1 Year Jail In Wiretap Trial

Berlusconi Sentenced To 1 Year Jail In Wiretap Trial

Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted and sentenced to a year in jail over an illegal wiretap.

Berlusconi Sentenced To 1 Year Jail In Wiretap Trial

He was accused of arranging for a police wiretap concerning a political rival to be leaked and published in a newspaper run by his brother.

Mr Berlusconi is likely to appeal and will remain free in the meantime.

He is presently appealing against a tax-fraud conviction and also faces a verdict in a sex trial later in March.

The tax fraud conviction stems from a trial last October that saw him sentenced to a year in jail.

The sex trial concerns allegations that he paid for sex with an underage prostitute.

There is no real prospect of Mr Berlusconi going to jail over the wiretap case, but the conviction is another very serious blow to his reputation.

It comes weeks after his right-wing coalition did better than expected in a general election, and is expected to form a major bloc in the next parliament.Vendetta claims

Prosecutors brought the wiretap case after a transcript of a phone conversation intercepted by the authorities was published in the newspaper Il Giornale, owned by Mr Berlusconi's brother Paolo.

The conversation took place between the head of insurer Unipol and Piero Fassino, who was the leader of the biggest centre-left party and Mr Berlusconi's biggest political rival at the time.

Unipol was trying to take over BNL bank in 2005. Magistrates had ordered the wiretap as part of an investigation into inappropriate interference in the takeover.

The publication of the transcript in a national newspaper broke secrecy rules, and Mr Berlusconi was accused of obtaining the transcript from the wiretap company used by magistrates.

He was convicted of breaching confidentiality.

His brother Paolo was convicted of the same charge and jailed for two years and three months.

Analysts say wiretapped conversations are widely published in Italian media, despite the risks of prosecution.

In numerous trials over the years, Mr Berlusconi has been accused of charges including accounting fraud, perjury, bribery, corruption, having unlawful sex with a minor, and fraud over the sale of film rights.

Mr Berlusconi says he is the target of a vendetta by politically biased prosecutors. He has denied all the accusations against him and has either been acquitted or let off under statutes of limitations.

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