to one year in prison in the so-called BNL-Unipol trial. We thought a short Q&A could be useful for those of you who don't follow Italian politics on a daily basis.
What was Berlusconi accused of?
Berlusconi was accused of leaking a wiretap phone call between centre-left politician Piero Fassino (currently serving as Mayor of Turin) and the then head of Italian insurer Unipol Giovanni Consorte to Il Giornale, a daily newspaper owned by Berlusconi's brother Paolo. Italian prosecutors had seized the wiretap as evidence in a separate investigation, so its disclosure was strictly forbidden.
Will Berlusconi go to prison?
Unlikely, for at least three reasons. First, he can still appeal against today's ruling twice - and the sentence can't be executed until the two appeals are exhausted. Second, the charges against Berlusconi (in this specific trial) will 'time out' at some point during the summer under Italy's statute of limitations. Third, Berlusconi turns 77 this year - meaning he may already be too old to go to prison anyway.
What's the impact of the ruling on Berlusconi's political career?
None, at least for now. Today's verdict does not involve any ban on taking public office and, again, has yet to be confirmed pending two separate appeals. Under Italian law, presumption of innocence remains valid until then (and rightly so).
So what's the significance of the ruling?
The ruling remains significant because the possibility of re-run elections in Italy is still on the table, and Berlusconi is also facing two more verdicts by the end of the month (including over the infamous 'Rubygate' affair). Having said that, though, remember Il Cavaliere was sentenced to four years in prison in a separate trial over allegations of tax fraud a couple of months before the elections, and yet, somewhat extraordinarily, over 7 million Italians chose to vote for his party anyway.