Italy top court to shape Berlusconi's political fate
ROME (AFP) - Italy's Supreme Court meets on Tuesday to examine a fraud trial against Silvio Berlusconi which could see him ousted from politics and risks upsetting the country's fragile coalition government.
The court will rule on whether to uphold a tax fraud conviction against the former premier and confirm the one-year prison sentence and a five-year ban from public office, which would effectively end his 20-year political career.
The 76-year-old is unlikely to be jailed because of his age, but his banishment from parliament would be a blow to the centre-right. It could also unsettle Prime Minister Enrico Letta's centre-left and right coalition, already riven with bickering.
The trial, which began seven years ago, concerns Berlusconi's Mediaset business empire. It revolves around prices of film distribution rights bought by the company that were artificially inflated in order to avoid taxes.