An Italian court sentenced ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday to one year in jail over the publication by his family’s newspaper of a transcript of a leaked wiretap connected to a banking scandal in 2006.
Italian justice system rules mean the 76-year-old media billionaire would not have to serve any jail time until the appeals process has been exhausted, and a higher court may still overturn the ruling.
It came in the middle of a political impasse arising from last week’s election which left no party able to form a government on its own, although Berlusconi’s center-right formation emerged as the second strongest in parliament.
Berlusconi is in the middle of a series of trials, with separate cases over charges of tax fraud and paying for sex with an underage prostitute due to wind up this month.
Following Thursday’s verdict, he repeated denials that he was in any way connected with wrongdoing and said the decision showed that politically motivated judges were conducting a campaign against him.
“It is impossible to tolerate judicial persecution of this kind which has been going on for 20 years and which re-emerges every time there are politically complex moments in the political life of our country,” he said in a statement.