Defiant Berlusconi turns to European human rights court to avoid punishment in tax fraud case

Italy's ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi has turned to Europe's human rights court in a bid to avoid a ban on holding public office and other punishment for his tax fraud conviction.

His top aide, Angelino Alfano, told reporters on Sunday the petition to the France-based tribunal "shows that the Berlusconi case isn't closed."

A Senate panel Monday starts formal discussing if Berlusconi must surrender his Senate seat. A recent law says those sentenced to more than two years are ineligible for six years to hold public office. Berlusconi's lawyers contend the law doesn't apply retroactively to him.

Last month, Italy's top criminal court upheld the conviction. A law to reduce prison overcrowding shaves the four-year prison term to one year. Because of his age, Berlusconi, 76, is eligible for house confinement.