LA STAMPA, CORRIERE DELLA SERA (Italy)
MILAN - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for tax fraud in his dealings with the Mediaset televsion network, which he owns.
The case, which took six years to arrive at a verdict, is the latest in a long string of corruption cases that the billionaire media mogul has faced since entering politics 18 years ago.
Do not, however, hold your breath waiting for the 76-year-old billionaire to be led away to prison anytime soon. Milan daily Corriere della Sera notes that this is just the first of three potential steps in the Italian judicial process.
Berlusconi, who has avoided any definitive guilty verdicts in the past, would not have to serve any jail time unless he was confirmed guilty in the final appeal.
The verdict, which includes a 10 million euro fine and a prohibition of serving public office, comes two days after Berlusconi officially announced that he would not seek his fourth term as Prime Minister.
Berlusconi's boyhood friend and longtime President of Mediaset, Fedele Confalonieri, was acquitted in the same trial, which alleged tax fraud in the purchasing of broadcasting rights, La Stampa reports.
Berlusconi, who has long charged prosecutors with using the courts to persecute him politically, is also facing charges related to several sex scandals.