(Reuters) Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was found guilty on Wednesday of bribing a senator to switch factions in a move which helped topple the then government in 2008.
The court in southern Italy sentenced Berlusconi to three years in jail and banned him from holding any public office for five years, a judge said in a ruling shown live on television.
The four-times prime minister denied the charges. However, he will not have to serve his sentence because a statute of limitations kicks in later this year before any appeal can be held, preventing the courts from pursuing the case further.
Berlusconi lost his parliamentary immunity when he was ejected from the Senate in 2013 following a conviction for tax fraud. Despite remaining head of his once-triumphant Forza Italia party, he is struggling to revive his political fortunes.
Prosecutors accused Berlusconi, 78, of bribing Sergio De Gregorio, a former senator in the small Italy of Values party, to switch allegiance in 2006 in a move that eventually helped topple the government of Berlusconi’s arch rival, Romano Prodi.