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Italy's Silvio Berlusconi Starts Working at Alzheimer's Hospice

Image: Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the hospice
Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the hospice on Friday.GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP - Getty Images

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Italy's scandal-hit former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi began a year of community service at a hospice for Alzheimer's patients Friday as punishment for his conviction for tax fraud.

The 77-year-old is one of the country's richest men with an estimated fortune of €6.5 billion (nearly $9 billion). He has been hit with a string of court cases in the past decade, including a conviction of paying for sex with an underage nightclub dancer.

Berlusconi arrived at the Sacra Famiglia Catholic hospice in Cesano Boscone, near Milan, on Friday morning in a black limousine, the U.K.'s Guardian newspaper reported.

He was heckled by an protester wearing a clown's hat who shouted: "To prison!" before he was led away, according to the BBC's correspondent in Italy.

Image: Italian former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the hospice
Silvio Berlusconi arrives at the hospice on Friday.GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP - Getty Images

Berlusconi served three spells as prime minister, as well as being one of Italy's leading media tycoons and owner of its prestigious A.C. Milan soccer club. His conviction relates to the purchase of television rights with his media company Mediaset in the 1990s.

The former leader was sentenced to four years in prison last year, but this was commuted to a year's community service in a care home in Milan because of Italy's leniency toward defendants over 70. He will work there once a week.

He was expelled from parliament, had his passport revoked, and has had to observe a curfew.

Berlusconi was also convicted last year of paying for sex with nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug - whose stage name was "Ruby the Heart Stealer" - when she was under 18.

He is appealing the case and says it is part of a left-wing witch hunt.

- Alexander Smith

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