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Verdict due in Berlusconi tax fraud appeal

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Silvio Berlusconi's appeal trial against a tax fraud conviction is due to conclude with a verdict later on Wednesday in the latest in a 20-year legal saga for the former prime minister.

A Milan court said it would issue its ruling "after 1500 GMT", without giving further details.

Berlusconi is appealing a one-year prison sentence and a five-year ban from holding public office, both of which have been suspended pending an appeal.

They will not be implemented immediately even if the conviction is upheld, as the case will go to Italy's top court for a second appeal.

Berlusconi was found guilty of artificially inflating the prices of film distribution rights bought by his company Mediaset to avoid taxes.

The billionaire is also a defendant in a trial for having sex with an underage 17-year-old prostitute while he was still prime minister, and then abusing the powers of his office by putting pressure on police to release her from custody.

He was also convicted in March over the publication of leaked police wiretap transcripts involving a political rival in a newspaper in his media empire.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130508/verdict-due-berlusconi-tax-fraud-appeal