Berlusconi tax-fraud ruling could be announced Wednesday

Ex-premier appealing conviction that would ban him from office

Berlusconi tax-fraud ruling could be announced Wednesday

Milan, July 31 - Judges at Italy's supreme court considering whether to uphold a four-year tax-fraud conviction against ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi will retire from hearings on Wednesday and could announce their ruling that same evening, local time, court sources said. If the Cassation upholds the verdict, the prison term and a five-year ban from holding public office for Berlusconi will become definitive, possibly causing waves in the fragile left-right government. Premier Enrico Letta's government needs the support of Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PdL) party to survive. However, some PdL lawmakers have threatened the party will pull its backing and sink the government unless the sentence is overturned, saying their leader is the victim of persecution by left-wing magistrates targeting him for political reasons.

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