Silvio Berlusconi guilty of paying sex for under-age girls

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of paying for sex with an underage prostitute.

The 76-year-old was sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from holding public office by a panel of three judges in Milan.

He previously denied having sex with Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, after what prosecutors claimed were erotic “bunga bunga” parties at his Milan mansion in 2010.

His defence claimed he believed the dancer, who was 17 at the time, was the niece of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and wanted to avoid a diplomatic incident.

Berlusconi was also found guilty of abuse of office by arranging to have Miss El Mahroug, now 19, released from police custody when she was arrested on suspicion of theft.

Under the Italian justice system, Berlusconi has two levels of appeal.

His sentence will not take effect until the appeals process has been exhausted, which could take several years.

Last October, Berlusconi was sentenced to four years in prison for tax fraud connected to his television channels.

The case is now heading to Italy’s highest court for a final appeal, after his defence team failed to have the verdict overturned at the constitutional court.

 

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