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Italy’s High Court Upholds Silvio Berlusconi's Fraud Conviction

Ian Waldie/Getty Images(ROME) -- Italy’s Supreme Court on Thursday upheld former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's conviction for tax fraud.

In a defiant video message broadcast on one of his own private television channels after the court ruling, the billionaire blasted Italy’s “uncontrollable and uncontrolled” judiciary and accused them of persecuting him with a “fury that has no equal anywhere in the civilized world.”

The 77-year-old former leader has faced dozens of charges -- everything from corruption to paying for sex with a minor -- but this is the first time he has been found definitively guilty.  There can be no appeal of the high court’s ruling.

Berlusconi has been sentenced to a year of house arrest and community service.  He has also been banned from public office for three years.

In June, a lower court in a separate case sentenced him to seven years in jail and a lifetime ban on public office for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his office to cover it up, but he is appealing the verdict.  If that appeal fails, he will be allowed a second based on Italy's appeals process.

Berlusconi is also appealing a conviction for publishing the transcript of a leaked wiretap.

This October, a court is expected to rule on whether he should be tried for allegedly bribing a senator to switch political sides.  He denies the allegations.

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