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Former Italian Premier Convicted

July 7, 1998

MILAN, Italy (AP) _ A court today convicted media mogul and former Premier Silvio Berlusconi of bribing tax inspectors and sentenced him to two years and nine months in prison, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The verdict came after more than two years of trial for Berlusconi, who now leads Italy’s center-right opposition.

Earlier today, the jury began deliberating charges that Berlusconi paid tax inspectors to obtain favorable audits of his Fininvest media and retail holding company.

Prosecutors had sought a three-year prison sentence for Berlusconi, who has insisted he was being victimized by Milan prosecutors.

The defense argued the money was extorted by inspectors auditing his media and retail holding company.

Berlusconi’s media empire includes Italy’s three largest private TV networks.

In December, Berlusconi was convicted of fraud in a 1987 film company deal. He faces other charges of tax evasion and tax fraud.

The case in Milan grew out of the ``Clean Hands″ corruption probes begun in 1992.

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