Berlusconi minister begins jail sentence

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Cesare Previti, minister of defence in Silvio Berlusconi's first government, is expected to begin a six-year jail sentence, after the highest court in the land rejected his appeal against a conviction for bribing judges.

More than a dozen criminal cases against Mr Berlusconi and his colleagues have gone through the courts in the past 10 years, but this is the first time that a member of his circle will actually go to jail.

Previti was found guilty with others of bribing judges to obtain favourable verdicts in two cases involving corporate takeovers.

Mr Berlusconi was charged in one of the original cases, but saved by the statute of limitations.