Berlusconi convicted in wiretap case

Media tycoon awaits two further verdicts


Former Italo prime minister and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted to a year in jail in a wiretapping case in which a transcribed phone conversation was printed in a newspaper owned by his brother to discredit a political rival.

Thursday’s sentence does not mean Berlusconi, known as the Teflon Tycoon for his ability to evade prosecution, will be incarcerated any time soon, if ever. He is expected to appeal, a long process in Italy.

It is the first of three upcoming verdicts Berlusconi faces that may damage his recently revived political career and, by extension, his declining Mediaset TV empire.

The wiretapping case centers around a banking scandal in 2005 when Berlusconi was prime minister and faced 2006 elections with his center-right PDL force.

According to prosecutors, in December 2005 Berlusconi and his brother Paolo Berlusconi received a pen drive from an employee of a company called Research Control containing a court-authorized wiretap of a conversation between then center-left leader Piero Fassino and a banker seeking support for a takeover bid of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro.

Excerpts were published a few days later in Paolo Berlusconi’s Il Giornale, sparking a storm and probe that led to the resignation of Bank of Italy governor Antonio Fazio.

Paolo Berlusconi, who denied wrongdoing, was convicted to two years and three months jail on Thursday.

Silvio Berlusconi also denied wrongdoing in this case and the two others expected to produce verdicts shortly: one trial for allegedly paying for sex with an under-age teen; the other, an appeal of a four-year tax-fraud conviction involving Mediaset’s multi-million dollar volume deals with Hollywood Studios, including Paramount and Fox.

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