Silvio Berlusconi Tax Fraud Community Service Sentence
Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to perform community service as one-year sentence for tax fraud Reuters

Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to serve his one-year sentence for tax fraud doing community service at a centre for the elderly.

A Milan court agreed to a request put forward by lawyers for former Italian prime minister and backed by prosecutors that he be spared house arrest and serve his time performing "socially useful" work instead.

Berlusconi will care for disabled pensioners at an old people's home selected by probation officers near his Arcore villa outside Milan.

He is expected to go there once a week for at least four consecutive hours. Additional conditions imposed by the court include a ban from meeting fellow offenders and drug addicts.

The media mogul has been allowed to travel from Milan to Rome three times a week to carry out political activities but will need a special permit to leave Milan's region of Lombardy for any other reason.

Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in jail over fiscal irregularities worth several million euros in the tax affairs for his flagship media company Mediaset last year.

The sentence was immediately reduced to one year under a 2006 partial amnesty. Italian law stipulates that culprits over 70 years of age should not go to jail. Berlusconi is 77.

Judges in Milan were thus left with two options: place him under house arrest or prescribe community service.

Berlusconi pushed for the latter option as confinement in one of his luxury villas would have prevented him campaigning for his Forza Italia party in the run-up to the European elections in May.

The party is hoping to put Berlusconi forward as candidate for the EU parliament despite a ban from public office in Italy handed down with the tax fraud sentence.