The Corte di Cassazione, Italy’s highest Court, has confirmed the ruling of the Appeal Court of Milan that gave Silvio Berlusconi a four year prison sentence for tax evasion regarding television rights. The sentence has automatically been reduced to a year under the terms of a 2006 law on pardons.

The Supreme Court did not confirm the five year ban from holding public office and this now goes for review.

Berlusconi, who made a fierce attack on Italy's judicial system in an emotional video screened on national television after the announcement, now faces house arrest or community service because at 76 he is too old to go to prison.

The sentence is bound to affect Italy’s political life although no one can predict what the outcome will be. Berlusconi has promised to relaunch his party to fight another day. But the real question is what will happen to Italy's present coalition government in which Berlusconi's party, Popolo della Libertà, is a vital partner.