ROME — A Milan appeals court on Thursday sentenced Mediaset Chief Executive Pier Silvio Berlusconi and the company’s chairman Fedele Confalonieri to one year and two months in jail.

The surprise ruling overturns their previous acquittal in a tax evasion case centered around multimillion-dollar Hollywood deals inked by the Berlusconi-controlled Mediaset TV empire.

The long-gestating trial stems from hundreds of millions of dollars in movie rights purchased by Mediaset’s Mediatrade unit from Hollywood studios, including Paramount and Fox, through offshore companies to allegedly evade taxes and create a slush fund.

Pier Silvio Berlusconi, who is former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s son, and Confalonieri have always denied any wrongdoing. They will not have to go to jail, pending their appeal to Italy’s highest court. Also, the statute of limitations is soon expected to kick in on this case which has been dragging on for several years.

Other executives who had originally been put on trial in the case have been definitively acquitted.

Mediaset in a statement said they were “completely extraneous” to the charges and confident that Italy’s Court of Cassation would rule in their favour.