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Berlusconi's fate in the balance in key trial hearings

Italy's top court begins crucial hearings for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday that could end the billionaire tycoon's parliamentary career and risk upsetting the country's fragile coalition. The supreme court is set to decide whether or not to confirm a one-year prison sentence and a five-year ban from politics in a long-running tax fraud case involving Berlusconi's media business interests.

Berlusconi's fate in the balance in key trial hearings

Italy's top court begins crucial hearings for former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Tuesday that will decide whether to confirm a one-year prison sentence and a five-year ban from politics. The sensitive tax fraud case, which began seven years ago, revolves around television distribution rights bought by the billionaire tycoon's media empire Mediaset. The result of the hearings risks upsetting Italy's fragile right-left coalition government.

Berlusconi won't seek 'exile' if tax fraud conviction upheld

ROME (Reuters) - Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would not flee Italy and was ready to go to jail rather than face house arrest or community service if a court upholds his conviction for tax fraud next week. Italy's highest appeals court will on Tuesday hear Berlusconi's final appeal against a four-year prison sentence and a ban from public office for tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his television network Mediaset.

Decision on Berlusconi senator bribe trial postponed

An Italian judge in the southern city of Naples on Friday postponed a decision on whether or not to try former premier Silvio Berlusconi for allegedly bribing a senator. A preliminary hearing on charges that the 76-year-old magnate in 2006 bribed left-wing senator Sergio De Gregorio with three million euros to join his party and topple the cabinet of then-prime minister Romano Prodi closed without reaching a decision. The judge fixed the next hearing for September 16 and said the ruling on whether to try Berlusconi would take place on October 23.

Potential black Friday for Berlusconi as legal troubles brew

Former Italian premier Sivlio Berlusconi was back in the legal spotlight on Friday, with a verdict expected in the trial of three allies accused of procuring him prostitutes, while another court examines a bribery allegation against him. The billionaire is mired in a series of legal woes which political experts warn could have wider repercussions on Italy's fragile grand coalition government, which relies on the support of the media magnate's centre-right party.

Berlusconi, stumbling economy raise heat in Italy

Italy's coalition government came under growing pressure on Wednesday from members of Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right party protesting the former premier's legal troubles and from bad news on the economic front. Lawmakers from the People of Freedom party, a key member of the coalition, said they wanted to boycott parliament for three days in protest after Italy's top tribunal announced a key court date for Berlusconi. The hearing could deliver a final verdict in a tax fraud case against Berlusconi that might mean a five-year ban from politics and a one-year prison term.

IMF urges Italy to bring back property tax; thorny issue could threaten coalition's survival

ROME - The International Monetary Fund pressed Italy on Thursday to do more about "unacceptably high" unemployment, especially among young people and women, and urged it to bring back an unpopular property tax whose return could threaten the survival of Premier Enrico Letta's coalition government.

Berlusconi verdict opens volatile new phase for Italy government

By James Mackenzie ROME (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi's conviction on charges relating to underage prostitution has opened an unpredictable chapter for Italy's fragile coalition government just as signs of uncertainty have returned to euro zone financial markets. The 76-year-old leader of the centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party, already fighting a four-year jail sentence and a ban on holding public office for tax fraud, meets Prime Minister Enrico Letta for discussions on Tuesday.

Italy's Letta makes best of bad job

By Hugo Dixon LONDON, June 24 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Italy's new prime minister, Enrico Letta, is making the best of a bad job. After February's inconclusive election, it looked like Italy's dysfunctional political system might drag the country further into the abyss. There was a risk that nobody would be able to form a government, new elections would be called and that even these would end in a stalemate.

Italy government easily wins first confidence vote

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta won his first confidence vote in parliament on Friday, using the procedure to push through a series of measures including funding for regions hit by earthquakes last year. Letta was never in danger of losing the vote and his grand coalition of traditional rivals from the center-left and center-right won by 383 votes to 154 in the lower house. The bill had already been passed in the Senate.
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