ROME, October 26 (RIA Novosti)
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A Milan court on Friday convicted former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of tax fraud and sentenced him to four years in prison in connection with the media magnate's Mediaset television company, Sky TG24 television reported.
The sentencing was aired live from the courtroom without Berlusconi's presence.
His lawyers said they will appeal.
The ruling comes two days after Berlusconi, 76, said he would not run for prime minister next year.
The Mediaset case has been one of the most high-profile and controversial trials involving Berlusconi’s business activity.
According to the prosecution, Mediaset was involved in a scheme to acquire the rights to broadcast movies on Berlusconi's private television networks via shell companies, evading tax payments through false accounting and financial reports.
The court ruled that Berlusconi, together with other defendants in the case, is to pay Italian tax services 10 million euros.
Commenting on the verdict, Russian lawyers said it shows that the principle that all are equal before the law is very much alive in Italy but the same could not be said of Russia.
“It’s impossible to even attempt to prosecute a sitting or former prime minister in our country,” lawyer Alexei Melnikov said, adding, however, that it is “a serious signal.”
“Some people should give it a thought,” he said.
His view was echoed by lawyer Larisa Movye, who said the law in Russia is very loose and can be bent any way it suits you.
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