Berlusconi, 76, was accused alongside others of purchasing rights to US films at inflated prices through offshore companies.

He is expected to appeal the sentence imposed on today, after prosecutors accused him of skimming money from the film rights purchases and putting the cash in illegal slush funds to reduce the tax bill for one of his companies, Mediaset.

Three-time PM Berlusconi stepped aside in November last year as he came under fire for his lack of a plan on how to deal with Italy financial woes.

The politician, media tycoon and owner of AC Milan is entitled to two appeals before the verdict of the court is final.

In previous trials connected with his personal businesses, he has been cleared or the cases have exceeded the judicial time limit.

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