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Senate panel says Berlusconi should lose his seat

Italian senators attend a hearing of a senate panel discussing if former Premier Silvio Berlusconi must surrender his Senate seat, in Rome, Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. An Italian Senate panel is scheduled to decide whether ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi should lose his seat in the upper chamber of Parliament because of his tax fraud conviction and prison sentence. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

ROME (AP) -- A Senate committee has recommended that Silvio Berlusconi lose his Senate seat due to his tax fraud conviction.

The committee's vote on Friday was the focus of Italy's latest political crisis. But the threat was removed when Premier Enrico Letta survived a confidence this week provoked by Berlusconi's moves to topple the government.

The full Senate now must vote on whether to remove Berlusconi by Oct. 14. It will be a further weakening of the three-time former premier's political potency. He suffered his first defeat within his own party when ministers refused to obey his call to bolt the government.

The committee's vote was based on a law banning anyone sentenced to more than two years from political office for six years. Berlusconi's tax fraud sentence was four years.