Tuesday, 25 June 2013

It's 7 years for former Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi for paying for sex with an under-age prostitute.

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was yesterday convicted by a Milan court of paying for sex with an under-age prostitute during infamous "bunga bunga" parties at his villa and then using his influence to try to cover it up.

Berlusconi, 76, was sentenced to seven years in prison and barred from public office for life - a sentence that could mean the end of his two-decade political career. However, there are two more levels of appeal before the sentence would become final, a process that can take months.

Both he and the Moroccan woman at the centre of the scandal have denied ever having sex.

His lawyer, Niccolo Ghedini, immediately announced an appeal. "This is beyond reality," he said outside the courthouse.

The charges against the billionaire media mogul stem from the parties in 2010 at his mansion near Milan, where he wined and dined beautiful young women while he was prime minister. He says the dinner parties were elegant soirees; prosecutors say they were sex-fuelled parties that women were paid to attend.

Neither Berlusconi nor the woman at the centre of the case - Karima el-Mahroug, better known by her nickname Ruby - had testified in the trial. Mahroug was called by the defence but failed to appear on a couple of occasions, delaying the trial. Berlusconi's team eventually dropped her from the witness list.

Berlusconi was not in court yesterday. The three female judges deliberated for more than seven hours before delivering their verdict. Their written explanations for the verdict will be submitted in the next few weeks.

Mahroug, now 20, said in the other trial that she attended about a half-dozen parties at Berlusconi's villa, and that after each, Berlusconi handed her an envelope with up to €3,000. She said she later received €30,000 in cash from Berlusconi paid through an intermediary - money that she told him she wanted to use to open a beauty salon, despite having no formal training.

She was 17 at the time of the alleged encounters but passed herself off as being 24.

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