Milan

Berlusconi given one-year jail term for wiretap publication

Brother Paolo sentenced to two years, three months

Berlusconi given one-year jail term for wiretap publication

Milan, March 7 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi was handed a one-year prison term by a Milan court on Thursday for involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap in his brother Paolo's conservative newspaper Il Giornale. Paolo Berlusconi was given a sentence of two years, three months in the first ruling on the case. In Italy prison sentences for non-violent crimes do not usually become effective until the two-tier appeals system has been exhausted. The wiretap concerned a conversation in 2005 between one of Berlusconi's political opponents, Piero Fassino, the then head of the former centre-left Democratic Left (DS) party, and Giovanni Consorte, the former chairman of Unipol, an association of insurers historically linked to the DS, the heir to Italy's Communist Party. At the time Unipol came close to taking over one of Italy's leading banks, Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL), and Fassino was recorded as saying "we have a bank!". Fassino, now mayor of Turin, was widely criticised for the comment, especially among the rank and file of the DS, which has since turned into a larger centre-left group, the Democratic Party. The court ordered Silvio and Paolo Berlusconi to pay 80,000 euros in damages to Fassino.

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