Berlusconi to ask to serve sentence in community service: press

ROME Sat Oct 5, 2013 1:28pm EDT

Italian center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi sits in hi car as he leaves the Senate in Rome, October 2, 2013. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

Italian center-right leader Silvio Berlusconi sits in hi car as he leaves the Senate in Rome, October 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Remo Casilli

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ROME (Reuters) - Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will ask to serve a tax fraud sentence in community service, rather than under house arrest, his lawyer told newswire AGI on Saturday.

The center-right leader, 77, was found guilty of falsely recording the price paid for television rights by his Mediaset television empire to pay less tax. He was given a four-year sentence in August, commuted to one year, to be served under house arrest or in community service due to his age.

Lawyer Franco Coppi told the newswire he would present the request to work for social services to a Milan court within a week, and that the details would be agreed afterwards. Coppi did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the comments.

Community service can embrace a vast range of activities from looking after elderly people and disabled people to helping with housing projects or environmental work. It was not, however, clear how this might work out for billionaire Berlusconi whom few Italians could imagine cleaning up a park, for instance, or sweeping a pavement.

The legal troubles of Berlusconi, who is appealing separate convictions for paying for sex with an underage girl and for the publishing of a leaked wiretap, threaten to derail a man who has dominated Italian politics for two decades.

Berlusconi maintains the trials are driven by left-leaning judges to destroy him politically.

On Friday a Senate committee recommended the billionaire be expelled from parliament due to the tax fraud verdict, his first definitive conviction in 20 years of trials. The vote will need to be ratified later this month by the full Senate for him to lose his seat.

(Reporting by Naomi O'Leary; editing by Ralph Boulton)

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