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Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi faces year in jail as he is sentenced over wiretap

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The former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been convicted and sentenced to a year in jail over an illegal wiretap.

He was accused of arranging for a confidential recording of a phone call between police and one of his political opponents to be leaked to his brother's newspaper.

Berlusconi, who denies any wrongdoing, immediately appealed the sentence and will remain free in the meantime.

He is currently appealing another conviction and faces two more verdicts in the coming weeks. One concerns tax fraud while the other alleges that he paid for sex with underage prostitutes.

The former prime minister is appealing a year-long jail sentence after being convicted in another tax fraud case last October.

Italy's highest appeals court last night upheld a ruling clearing Berlusconi of tax fraud in connection with his Mediatrade broadcasting rights firm.

Berlusconi's centre-right formation is the second-strongest group in parliament. But its prospects of a return to government have been held back by the refusal of centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani to accept a "grand coalition" with his longstanding rivals.