Two decades of courtroom saga for Silvio

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iol pic wld silvio_italy REUTERS A man holds up a picture of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi as he protests in front of Italy's supreme court building in Rome on July 30, 2013.

Rome, Latium -

Ever since he entered Italy's political arena in 1993, Silvio Berlusconi has been dogged by legal troubles and now faces a final judgment in a tax fraud case.

The 76-year-old tycoon has never so far been definitively convicted by a court and most charges against him have expired under the statute of limitations.

He denies all charges and says he has been unjustly victimised by left-wing prosecutors but critics say he has used his influence to get off the hook.

He is appealing convictions for having sex with an underage prostitute, abusing his official powers as prime minister, leaking a police wiretap to damage a political rival and the current tax fraud charge.

Here are the key dates in Berlusconi's legal saga:

1994: Berlusconi is accused of bribing tax police and is sentenced to 33 months in prison but is acquitted on appeal in 2000 when some of the charges expire.

1995: He is accused of buying a football player for his club AC Milan with a slush fund. The case expired in 2002 thanks to a law passed by his parliamentary majority that decriminalises false accounting.

1995: Accused of tax fraud in the purchase of a luxury villa near Milan, he again benefits from the charges running out under the statute of limitations.

1995: Berlusconi is accused of fraud in the purchase of the film production company Medusa and sentenced to 16 months in prison but acquitted on appeal in 2000.

1995: The tycoon is accused of illegally financing a political party with an offshore fund, All Iberian, and is sentenced to 28 months in prison, but acquitted in 1999 because of the statute of limitations.

1996: He is accused of fraud in another part of the All Iberian inquiry but is acquitted in 2005.

1998: Berlusconi is accused of bribing judges to promote his business interests but is eventually acquitted by the supreme court in 2007.

2012: He is convicted of tax fraud by his media company Mediaset and is sentenced to four years in prison, reduced to one year because of an amnesty, and a five-year ban from holding public office.

The verdict is upheld on first appeal in May 2013 and the supreme court is considering the second and final appeal in the case after a seven-year legal process.

March 2013: Berlusconi is convicted to a year in prison for leaking a police wiretap in one of his newspapers in an attempt to damage a political rival.

He is appealing the sentence, which in Italy is suspended pending the appeal process.

May 2013: Prosecutors in Naples file charges against Berlusconi for allegedly bribing a left-wing senator in a move that helped bring down prime minister Romano Prodi in 2008. The case is yet to go to trial.

June 2013: A court in Milan sentences Berlusconi to seven years in prison for abuse of office and having sex with an underage prostitute. He is appealing. - Sapa-AFP

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