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Italian supreme court defends upholding Berlusconi's conviction; says he devised tax fraud

Italy's supreme court is defending its decision earlier this month to uphold the tax fraud conviction of Silvio Berlusconi, saying the evidence was clear that the former premier devised a tax fraud scheme for the acquisition of film rights for his media empire.

The Court of Cassation released on Thursday a written document explaining its Aug. 1 decision, which upheld a Milan appellate court ruling that Berlusconi was guilty. The Cassation judges also upheld a four-year prison term and a ban on public office, although it ordered another court to establish the length of the ban.

The center-right leader says he's the victim of magistrates he contends sympathize with the left. His lawyers will be scrutinizing the 208-page document to try to bolster their claims that Berlusconi's rights were violated.