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Beleaguered Berlusconi gets a lift as divorce deal halved

Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome August 4, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi looks on during a news conference at Chigi Palace in Rome August 4, 2011. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

ROME (Reuters) - Silvio Berlusconi finally got some good news from Italian judges on Tuesday when a court halved the amount of money he will have to pay his estranged wife Veronica Lario.

The media tycoon must pay 1.4 million euros ($1.9 million) per month, the court in the northern city of Monza ruled, slashing the 3 million euros previously stipulated, sources close to the matter told Reuters.

Earlier this year Berlusconi, 77, criticized the panel of what he called "feminist and communist" female judges responsible for the original settlement and launched an appeal.

The former prime minister has had little to celebrate since he was sentenced in August to four years in jail for tax fraud, commuted to a year under house arrest or in community service.

Last month he tried and failed to bring down Enrico Letta's government and on Saturday a Milan court banned him from public office for two years.

However, Lario can appeal the divorce settlement decision again.

The former actress, who was married to Berlusconi for more than 22 years and had three children with him, asked for a divorce in 2009, accusing him of having an affair with a 17-year-old girl.

In June he was convicted of paying for sex with an underage prostitute during "bunga bunga" parties at his villa near Milan.

His new girlfriend, 28-year-old Francesca Pascale, said in September that she wanted to marry Berlusconi who first caught her eye when she was a teenager. ($1 = 0.7312 euros)

(Reporting By Sara Rossi, writing by Catherine Hornby, editing by Gavin Jones)

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