Berlusconi's political fate in hands of high court

In this photo taken on Friday, July 19, 2013 Silvio Berlusconi attends a voting session at the Senate in Rome. Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media baron and former premier, sometimes quipped that he was running out of money after two decade of steadily paying millions of euros (dollars) to a stable of Italy's leading lawyers to defend him in a raft of criminal cases. The legal team earned its keep, either eventually scoring acquittals or devising strategies that helped stretch out the court calendar for so long the cases died when statutes of limitations ran out. But this time, they failed to deliver him from final judgment day for a guilty verdict that arrives Tuesday at Italy's highest court, and Berlusconi's no longer joking. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

In this photo taken on Friday, July 19, 2013 Silvio Berlusconi attends a voting session at the Senate in Rome. Silvio Berlusconi, the billionaire media baron and former premier, sometimes quipped that he was running out of money after two decade of steadily paying millions of euros (dollars) to a stable of Italy's leading lawyers to defend him in a raft of criminal cases. The legal team earned its keep, either eventually scoring acquittals or devising strategies that helped stretch out the court calendar for so long the cases died when statutes of limitations ran out. But this time, they failed to deliver him from final judgment day for a guilty verdict that arrives Tuesday at Italy's highest court, and Berlusconi's no longer joking. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

ROME (AP) — Silvio Berlusconi's political fate is in the hands of Italy's highest court, which is preparing to hear arguments in the former premier's fraud conviction.

Berlusconi has been convicted of tax fraud in a complex TV rights transaction for his Mediaset network, and sentenced to four-years in prison with a five-year ban on public office. This is his final appeal.

The Court of Cassation on Tuesday hears arguments in the case and is expected to issue a decision later in the day or Wednesday.

Berlusconi has no official role in Italy's uneasy coalition government, but remains influential and was key to the center-right's close second-place finish in February elections. He has a seat in Italy's Senate, which he would have to vacate if the lower courts' verdicts are confirmed.
Associated Press
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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