Court refuses to halt Berlusconi fraud appeal, verdict after elections

A Milan court has refused to halt ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi's fraud appeal until after national elections.

The court ruled that the hearings, which began Friday, will continue but that the verdict will be returned after the Feb. 24-25 elections, avoiding any "media clamor" impacting the race. Berlusconi is heading a center-right coalition, but has not been clear if he will be a candidate for premier.

The 76-year-old media mogul is appealing his conviction on a tax fraud charge and four-year sentence relating to the sales of U.S. movie rights to his private networks.

It is one of three pending trials.

Three judges on Monday refused to halt the sex-for-hire trial against Berlusconi, accused of paying for sex with an underage Moroccan teen. But a third court Thursday agreed to suspend a wire-tap leaks trial until after the vote.