Berlusconi 'anguished, worried' ahead of fraud verdict

Supreme court set to decide whether to uphold four-year term

Berlusconi 'anguished, worried' ahead of fraud verdict

(see related story) Rome, July 31 - Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi is worried and anxious as he waits for the supreme Court of Cassation's verdict on whether to uphold a conviction for tax fraud, one of his staunchest allies said Wednesday. "Berlusconi is going through this wait with anxiety and worry," Daniela Santanché, an MP for Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party, said on Italian radio. "In part this is because of what his lawyers have told him and in part it is because of what he already knows - that if he were a normal citizen he would certainly have been acquitted". The Cassation is expected to announce later on Wednesday or on Thursday whether it has confirmed a four-year prison term against Berlusconi, three years of which would not be effective because of a 2006 amnesty. State prosecutors on Tuesday requested that a five-year ban on holding public office handed down at the previous two trials be reduced to three years. Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing and says the case is part of a judicial "persecution" left-wing magistrates have directed at him since the media magnate embarked on a political career 20 years ago. Santanché said that she did not expect the Cassation to overturn the conviction. "This history of the last 20 years makes one think he will be convicted," she said. "A conviction would be a mutilation of democracy". Franco Coppi, the leader of Berlusconi's defence team, said the ex-premier would not go to the Cassation during Wednesday's hearing. "He won't show, he has no reason to come here".

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