October 26, 2012 - 20:54 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister, was sentenced to four years in prison for tax evasion, only for his sentence to be reduced swiftly to one year, The Daily Telegraph reported.
The court in Milan said the reduction was a result of a 2006 amnesty law, passed by a rival Left-wing government, aimed at reducing prison overcrowding.
Its decision to cut his sentence by 75 per cent was a reminder of how Mr Berlusconi, despite numerous marathon legal battles and four previous guilty verdicts, has never been to prison.
Berlusconi's lawyers appealed minutes after the pronouncement of the first conviction, which included a three-year ban on holding public office.
Given the shorter sentence and their client's record of running down the legal clock and winning appeals, the colorful 76-year-old politician and tycoon is unlikely to spend time behind bars in the near future, if at all. The statute of limitations in the case is set to expire sometime next year.
Defense lawyers Piero Longo and Niccolo Ghedini denounced the guilty verdict as "incredible".
"It is to be hoped that in the appeals court there will be a different atmosphere," they said, describing the decision by the Milan court as "totally divorced from all judicial logic".
The sentence was heavier than the three years and eight months requested by prosecutors, and was the longest of the four Berlusconi has received so far in a career marked by marathon legal battles.