The Italian senate on Wednesday (November 27) expelled centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi from parliament following his conviction for tax fraud, in what Berlusconi called a day of mourning for Italian democracy.

The senate floor did not hold a formal vote, but merely rejected a series of challenges by Berlusconi's supporters to the recommendation for his expulsion issued last month by a senate panel.

Berlusconi was sentenced in August to four years in prison, commuted to a year under house arrest or in community service, for masterminding an illegal scheme to reduce the tax bill of his media company Mediaset.

Berlusconi, who has dominated politics in Italy for two decades, has already pulled his party out of Letta's coalition after seven months in government, accusing leftwing opponents of mounting a "coup d'etat" to eliminate him.

Stripped of his parliamentary immunity from arrest, he is more vulnerable in a series of other cases, where he is accused of offences including political bribery and paying for sex with a minor.

Under a law passed with Berlusconi's support last year, politicians convicted of serious criminal offences are ineligible for parliament, but his expulsion had to be confirmed by a full vote in the Senate.

Presented by Adam Justice

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