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Italy's Berlusconi unlikely to spend day in jail at age 76

| Friday, Aug. 2, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

ROME — Now that Silvio Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence have been upheld by Italy's highest court, key questions remain about what will happen next to the former Italian premier. At his age, how much of that sentence will he have to serve? Will he do that in prison or at one of his villas? With he be barred from leaving Italy and lose his Senate seat?

Berlusconi is highly unlikely to spend a day behind bars, and that's not because he is one of the country's richest men. That's because of Italian law. For example, his four-year prison sentence is automatically reduced to one year because of a law mandating that three years be shaved off sentences to reduce prison overcrowding. Berlusconi will turn 77 in September, and most Italian convicts 70 or older are eligible to serve their sentences at home.

First-time offenders with relatively short sentences are eligible to avoid prison by doing social services such as picking up litter in a park or serving meals at homes for the elderly.

Berlusconi remains a senator for now. It will take months, maybe more, for a Milan court to decide the length of his ban from public office.

On Friday, he met with some leaders of his party, and they said they intend to press President Giorgio Napolitano — who as head of state has the power to issue pardons — to do so for Berlusconi.

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