Europe

Italy's Beppe Grillo given four month jail sentence

Beppe Grillo, leader of Five-Star Movement, 19/02/2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Beppe Grillo's Five-Star Movement is the third-largest party in both houses of Italy's legislature

The leader of one of Italy's largest political parties has been sentenced to four months in prison.

Beppe Grillo was convicted of breaking into a sealed-off construction site during a protest against a high-speed train line in 2010.

The former comedian is head of the Five-Star Movement, a protest party which won a quarter of the vote in Italy's last national election.

He will not start his jail term until the appeals process is over.

Mr Grillo was not in court to hear the sentence.

He had admitted entering a hut but denied that he had broken a security seal to do so.

He vowed to fight the sentence, saying after the decision: "Today they sentenced me to four months. I will not give up. Your solidarity really helps".

Nine other activists accused of entering the hut with Mr Grillo were given sentences of up to nine months, while another 10 suspects were found not guilty.

The new high speed railway, known as Tav (Treno Alta Velocita), will run across the Alps between Turin and Lyon.

Supporters say it will slash journey times to Europe and help the local and regional economy.

Opponents say it is unnecessary and environmentally unsound.

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