Berlusconi's political future at stake as Italian Senate committee debates public office ban

A parliamentary committee is debating whether flamboyant former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi should be stripped of his Senate seat following his definitive conviction for tax fraud.

Berlusconi has threatened to bring down Premier Enrico Letta's unusual left-right government if the Senate committee votes to kick him out of parliament. His People of Freedom party is a crucial part of the government.

Italy's highest criminal court upheld Berlusconi's tax fraud conviction, four-year prison term and ban from public office last month. The Senate's deliberation's aren't based on that sentence but rather on a 2012 law that says anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison is ineligible to hold public office for six years.

The committee's deliberations are expected to extend beyond Monday's session.