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Allies of convicted Berlusconi buoyed by president's pledge to consider any bid for pardon

A pledge by Italy's president to consider any request to pardon former Premier Silvio Berlusconi has buoyed his allies.

Berlusconi faces a one-to-three-year ban on holding public office after Italy's supreme court on Aug. 1 upheld his fraud conviction and four-year prison sentence. President Giorgio Napolitano said Tuesday night that if Berlusconi, 76, seeks a pardon he would give the request "objective and rigorous" consideration.

Under Italian law, his lawyers or family members also could make such a request.

The president's comment cheered Berlusconi supporters Wednesday. Stefania Prestigiacomo, a former Berlusconi minister, called Napolitano's "willingness very important." A pardon could scrap or reduce Berlusconi's sentence, which is already limited to one year under Italian law. But his conviction would stand, making him ineligible to ever hold office or seek re-election.