Italian court upholds Berlusconi tax fraud sentence

ROME (AP, AFP) - An Italian court on Wednesday upheld a tax fraud conviction for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, confirming his sentence of one year in prison and a five-year ban from public office.

"The court confirms the sentence against Silvio Berlusconi," a judge at the Milan court said in a live audio feed broadcast by news channel Sky TG 24.

But the former Italian leader could appeal this verdict to a higher court, the Court of Cassation.

In October, a court convicted Berlusconi in a scheme that involved inflating the price his Mediaset media empire paid for TV rights to U.S. movies and pocketing the difference. Berlusconi denied the charges and says he's a victim of politically motivated prosecutors. That verdict was upheld Wednesday by the appeals court in Milan.

The lower court, which began hearing the case in 2006, also said Berlusconi could not hold public office for five years or manage any company for three years, penalties that would take force only if the conviction is upheld on two levels of appeal.