Berlusconi will not spark crisis if convicted: Lawyer

ROME (AFP) - Italy's Silvio Berlusconi will not provoke a political crisis even if he is convicted next month for having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office, his lawyer said on Wednesday.

"It's a long way from grumbling to a political crisis," Mr Niccolo Ghedini, who represents the former prime minister and is also a lawmaker from his party, told a press conference in Rome.

"Even if he is convicted, Mr Berlusconi has no interest in a crisis because he helped create the government and wants stability," Mr Ghedini said.

The lawyer also accused Mr Berlusconi's enemies in parliament of wanting to "do away" with the billionaire tycoon in parliament because they could not defeat him at the ballot box.

"He is always resurrecting," Mr Ghedini said.

Berlusconi's People of Freedom party has joined with the main centre-left Democratic Party in a grand coalition government formed last month to put an end to a long political deadlock.

Mr Ghedini reiterated the media magnate's accusations of a prosecutorial bias against him during decades of legal woes and said that despite this "Mr Berlusconi has never had a definitive sentence against him".

"A conviction by a court in the first instance in Italy should not be considered a definitive judgement politically or morally because it can always be overturned on appeal," Mr Ghedini said.

A court in Milan last week upheld a one-year prison sentence and five-year ban from public office against Mr Berlusconi for tax fraud.

A final ruling in the case from Italy's highest court could come in November, Mr Ghedini said.

Mr Berlusconi is also on trial for allegedly having sex with a then 17-year-old prostitute, Karima El-Mahroug, while he was still prime minister and then pressuring police to release her from custody when she was arrested for petty theft.

Mr Berlusconi "has a private life, and as long as it does not have an influence on the public sphere it should be treated very carefully", Mr Ghedini said.

He has also been convicted of leaking a police wiretap in one of his newspapers and is a suspect in two investigations for bribing a left-wing lawmaker and for paying off an alleged pimp to stop him from revealing damaging information.