Italy's Silvio Berlusconi gets two-year office ban

Silvio Berlusconi leaving a voting booth, Milan (file photo 24 Feb)
Image caption If he is expelled from parliament, Berlusconi will lose his immunity from prosecution in a string of criminal cases

A court in Milan has banned Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's former prime minister, from holding public office for two years, following his conviction for tax fraud.

However, the ban must be approved by parliament before taking effect.

Earlier this month, a cross-party panel of the Italian Senate recommended his expulsion from the chamber.

Berlusconi had threatened to topple the coalition government over the issue but backed down during a confidence vote.

If he is expelled from the senate, he will lose his parliamentary immunity from prosecution in a string of criminal cases.

He will also spend a year under house arrest, or doing community service - his preferred option, according to a request he formally submitted last week.

The votes on his expulsion and ban on holding office are expected to take place within the next few weeks.

Berlusconi, 77, was convicted over deals his firm Mediaset made to purchase TV rights to US films.

He was sentenced to four years in prison, automatically reduced to one under a 2006 pardon act. He was also banned from holding public office for five years.

The sentence was upheld in August.