Berlusconi to do community service

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Italy's highest court upheld Silvio Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction on August 1st. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP
12:54 CEST+02:00
Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has asked to serve his 12-month sentence for tax fraud in the form of community service, his lawyers said on Friday.

The supreme court on August 1st turned down Berlusconi's second and final appeal in the tax fraud case, handing him his first ever definitive conviction in a long history of legal woes.

Because of his age, the 77-year-old will not have to go to prison and had a choice of asking for either house arrest or community service, which would afford him greater freedom of movement.

If Berlusconi's request is accepted, a court in Rome, where Berlusconi has officially declared residence, will decide what form the service will take, a legal source close to Berlusconi told AFP.

The flamboyant tycoon could find himself working in an old people's home, stacking shelves in a supermarket or cleaning up graffiti, although this is seen as unlikely.

View a gallery of Berlusconi's options for community service.

Berlusconi, who has always sworn his innocence in the case, had initially rejected doing community service "like a common criminal".

But experts say it is the option that would give him the most freedom since under the rules of house arrest in Italy, a criminal has to make a specific request for every movement outside.

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Procedural delays mean that the billionaire magnate's punishment is not likely to be meted out before next year.

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