Berlusconi gets community service

Former premier to work at old folks' home

Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi will serve a year of his four-year tax fraud sentence by working at a centre for the elderly, following a ruling by a Milan court on Tuesday 15 April.

Under Italian law, the 77-year-old billionaire is too old to go to jail, and prosecutors had recommended that the court agree to Berlusconi's request to undertake community service.

The court ruled that Berlusconi should work at least one day a week, for "no less than four consecutive hours", but that he must stay in the Lombardy region of northern Italy. Italian news agency ANSA reported that Berlusconi would be assigned to a centre run by the Fondazione Sacra Famiglia Catholic foundation at Cesano Boscone near Milan.

However Berlusconi, will be permitted to travel to Rome between Tuesday and Thursday each week. The rest of his four-year sentence for tax fraud and evasion in the Mediaset case is covered by amnesties but the conviction has prevented him from running in next month's European elections and he has already been forced to surrender his passport.