June 24, 2015 / 5:54 PM / in 2 years

Italian prosecutor seeks five years for Berlusconi in bribery case

NAPLES, Italy (Reuters) - A prosecutor in southern Italy asked a court on Wednesday to sentence four-times prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to five years in jail, accusing him of bribing senators in 2006.

Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi gestures as he speaks during a party rally in Milan May 23, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

Naples prosecutors say the billionaire media magnate bribed Sergio De Gregorio, a former senator in the small Italy of Values party, to switch allegiance in a move that helped topple the center-left government of then-prime minister Romano Prodi in 2007.

Berlusconi has always denied the allegations. A verdict is expected on July 8.

Berlusconi, 79, was banned from public office for six years after a 2013 tax fraud conviction stemming from one of dozens of trials and investigations that punctuated his two decades in politics.

Forced from office in 2011 at the height of the euro zone crisis, he was originally sentenced to four years in jail in the tax fraud case, but eventually did a year of community service at an old people’s home near Milan.

His center-right Forza Italia party has since been eclipsed by the anti-immigration Northern League.

Reporting by Amalia De Simone; Writing by Isla Binnie; Editing by Ruth Pitchford

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