Former Italian premier Slivio Berulsconi convicted in wiretap case

Silvio BerlusconiA court in Milan today convicted former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi of confidentiality breach in the illegal publication of wiretapped conversations, in a newspaper owned by his media empire.

The court sentenced him to one-year prison term, issuing no orders on the carrying out of the sentence. It is rare for anyone to be put behind bars in Italy pending a possible appeal except for serious crimes like murder.

Berlusconi's brother, Paolo Berlusconi, too, was convicted of the same charges and sentenced him to two years and three months in prison.

The transcript of the conversation was published in his newspaper, the Milan-based il Giornale.

The former premier's defence team had accused the court of seeking a speedy verdict for political impact.

The verdict, though does not directly affect Berlusconi's eligibility to participate in a new government as Italy - despite several attempts to pass such legislation - had no law banning people convicted of minor crimes from parliament. His centre-right coalition last week finished third in parliamentary elections that threw up no clear winner. Talks on the formation of a new government are expected to get under way on 20 March.