Court view on anti-corruption law 'could help Berlusconi'
May ease abuse-of-office rap in Ruby case, experts say25 October, 10:55
The Cassation Court said the law mandated a charge of coercion, and therefore a longer sentence, if officials were found guilty of "radically restricting" the freedom of action of those they were leaning on.
On the other hand, if the pressure was "not irresistible", it said the charge should be the milder one of "induction".
Berlusconi got six years for coercion of police officers and one year for paying Ruby for sex, a total of seven.
The Cassation Court ruling may mean he will be convicted of induction on appeal, cutting the six-year part of the sentence.
Berlusconi told the police Ruby, held on a theft claim, was the niece of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and said she should be released to avoid a diplomatic incident.
The media magnate also got a life ban from office in the case, one of several in what he calls a 20-year campaign by left-wing magistrates.
The Senate is set to vote next month to eject Berlusconi for his first definitive conviction, for tax fraud.