Media reports in Italy suggest lawyers for former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi are to appeal against his jail sentence for tax fraud, according to the BBC.
The 76-year-old was convicted of tax evasion and jailed for four years on Friday, but reports say an appeal will be lodged next month.
Silvio Berlusconi has told the Italian television station TGCom24 that today's tax fraud ruling against him is a "political verdict". In a telephone interview, he said:
This conviction is political, incredible and unbearable, we can't go on like this.
It proves that there is a persistent judiciary attack against me and that there is a political usage of the justice.
There is no doubt that this is a political verdict as are many trials that they have invented against me.
In total there have been more than 60 trials, more than 1,000 magistrates have been involved in the investigations. We suffered 188 searches, there have been 2,666 hearings over the last 18 years.
When you cannot be confident of the neutrality of the judges, this country becomes uncivilised, barbaric and unbearable and stops to be a democracy.
Silvio Berslusconi has called his conviction for tax fraud "unreal" and "politicised", the Associated Press reports.
Speaking on one of the television stations in his media empire, he said:
– silvio berlusconi, former prime minister of italy
If you can't count on impartial judges in a country, the country becomes uncivil, barbarian and unlivable and stops being a democracy.
It's sad, but the situation of our country today is that way.
Silvio Berlusconi announced yesterday that he would not run for Prime Minister in the forthcoming general election.
In a televised statement, he said "I still have good muscles and a bit of brains, but what is left for me is to give advice."
He said that resigning from the premiership last year was a painful decision but that the country does not want to participate in a "witch hunt".
Mr Berlusconi is still free to play an active role in politics despite a ban on holding public office since the ban is suspended until after the appeals process.
A total of 11 people were on trial over alleged tax evasion involving Mediaset.
Three of the defendants were acquitted, including a close associate of Silvio Berlusconi, Fedele Confalonieri.
Berlusconi and three others were convicted. They include a Hollywood producer, Frank Agrama, who received a three-year sentence.
The other four defendants were cleared because the judicial time limits on the cases had run out.
Shares in Silvio Berlusconi's company Mediaset fell 2.8% to 1.34 euros in response to today's ruling.
In contrast, Italy’s benchmark FTSE MIB index advanced by 0.2%.
- Four years in prison
- Barred from holding public office for three years
- Along with three other defendants, ordered to pay 10 million euros (£8m) as provisional damages pending future appeals.
Lawyers for Silvio Berlusconi have described his conviction for tax fraud as "absolutely incredible". They said they are hoping for a different approach in the appeals court.