Berlusconi appeal trial delayed by a month

A court in Milan on Saturday delayed by a month the next hearing in former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's appeal trial against a conviction for tax fraud after a request by his lawyers.

Judges accepted Berlusconi's justification that he could not attend because he was meeting the leadership of his People of Freedom party on Saturday.

The next hearing in the trial -- linked to his business empire Mediaset -- will be on April 20.

A verdict is not expected before the end of April at the earliest.

Berlusconi was sentenced to a year in prison and handed a five-year ban from holding public office, but the punishment has been suspended during the appeal process.

If the court upholds the conviction, he can still file a second appeal with Italy's highest court.

Berlusconi is also a defendant in another trial in Milan for having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office when he was prime minister.

He has denied all charges.