ROME (AP) -- An Italian court reversed an acquittal and sentenced former Premier Giulio Andreotti to 24 years in prison for complicity in the 1979 slaying of a muckraking journalist.
The 83-year-old Andreotti, now a senator for life, was expected to appeal Sunday's surprise verdict -- the latest blow in the fall from grace for the politician who was premier seven times.
"I'm more and more disconcerted. I certainly did not expect this," Andreotti said Monday.
After the verdict, he told the ANSA news agency, "I've always believed in justice and I will continue to believe in it. Although this evening, I am struggling to accept something of such absurdity."
The judges have 90 days to issue a written explanation of how they reached their verdict.
Three years ago, Andreotti and mobster Gaetano Badalamenti, were acquitted by a lower court in the murder of the crusading journalist outside his office.
The appeals court also reversed the acquittal of Badalamenti, giving him the same 24-year sentence. Badalamenti is already serving a 30-year prison term in the United States and also is expected to appeal Italian ruling.
Before Sunday's ruling, Andreotti had survived numerous controversies and investigations while dominating post World War II politics in Italy.
His political downfall came in the 1990s, when his Christian Democratic party was toppled along with much of Italy's political class in corruption scandals.
Still, Sunday's conviction stunned the Italian political world, with parliament members of many leanings describing the decision as "scandalous," "shocking," or "incredible."
The prosecution argued that the Mafia killed the journalist Mino Pecorelli at the behest of Andreotti.
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