Silvio Berlusconi’s acquittal in his notorious ‘bunga bunga’ case has been upheld by Italy’s highest court.
It gives the former Italian prime minister a welcome legal victory as he tries to rally his Forza Italia party ahead of regional elections in May.
The Court of Cassation in Rome rejected a prosecutors’ appeal and confirmed Berlusconi’s acquittal on charges that he paid for sex with an under-age prostitute during raunchy parties at his Milan villa, and used his influence to cover it up.
A lower court had convicted the three-time premier of both charges, and sentenced him to seven years in prison and a lifetime ban from holding public office. But an appeal court reversed the verdict last year — a decision that was confirmed by the Cassation.
Defence lawyer Michaela Andresano said: “It’s a great success. The court accepted our arguments and rejected the prosecutors’ appeal.”
Prosecutors alleged Berlusconi paid Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, for sex while she was a minor and then intervened with police in 2010 to have her released when she was picked up on suspicion of theft. Both Berlusconi and el-Mahroug, who was 17 at the time, denied ever having sex.
Berlusconi completed his community service stint last week for a tax fraud conviction that also cost him his seat in parliament.
But his legal problems are not over. Milan prosecutors are investigating him for allegedly paying off witnesses in the ‘bunga bunga’ case, and he is still on trial in Naples for alleged political corruption.
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