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Prosecutors make Berlusconi's jail term effective, suspend verdict

Milan prosecutors on Friday issued an order to make effective former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's tax-fraud jail conviction and temporarily suspended the verdict, local reports said.

The suspension is regarded as one year of the four-year term since three years are not effective under a 2006 amnesty law. In fact, being over 70, the three-time prime minister would not serve the remaining year behind bars but would be given social work or house arrest.

Berlusconi will have until the end of October to notify prosecutors whether he prefers the conviction transformed into community service or house arrest. According to sources from his entourage quoted by Rai state television, he will take all the time at his disposal to make the decision.

Since the passing of an anti-corruption law enacted last year, 76-year-old Berlusconi is no longer allowed to run in elections for at least six years. He is also likely to be stripped of his current post as senator following an upcoming vote of the upper house.

On Thursday, the Italian supreme court rejected Berlusconi's final appeal against a conviction handed down by two lower courts which sentenced him to four years in jail, while ordering a Milan court to review the second part of his sentence, a five-year ban from public office.

The media tycoon was convicted for inflating prices in the purchase of rights to American movies for his broadcaster in order to dodge taxes. Berlusconi denies all charges, saying that he never had offshore accounts and he was the victim of "judicial harassment."

Before Thursday, Berlusconi, who is also appealing two separate sentences on paying a minor for sex and the illegal use of wiretapping, has never been given a definitive conviction after around 30 trials.

[Source: Xinhua, Milan, 02Aug13]

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