Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of bribing a senator in 2006 in an attempt to bring down the then centre-left government, media reported on Thursday.
A court in Naples sentenced Berlusconi, 78, to three years in prison and banned him from holding public office for five years, Xinhua news agency reported.
According to a report by Italian daily ‘Corriere della Sera’, Berlusconi described the verdict as “absurd” and the consequence of a “judicial persecution” aimed at damaging his “image of the protagonist of politics”.
According to the court, Berlusconi paid a former senator around 3 million euros ($3.3 million) for changing his political stand.
Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo Ghedini said the verdict was “clamorously unfair and unjustified”, wishing the appeals court upturn the sentence.
Italy’s judicial system offers defendants three levels of trial before a conviction becomes definitive, and both sides of law cases have the right to appeal to higher courts.
Earlier this year, he completed a community service order for corporate tax fraud but was cleared of having sex with an under-age dancer after judges ruled he could not have known she was a minor. Berlusconi served three times as Italy’s prime minister, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011. He also owns the Italian football club, A.C. Milan.