Berlusconi found guilty in prostitution trial
The former Italian Prime Minister and head of the main coalition partner in the current Italian government, Silvio Berlusconi, has been found guilty of paying an underage prostitute for sex and later abusing his office to cover up the issue.
The panel of three female judges sentenced the 76-year-old politician to seven years in jail and a lifetime ban on holding public office yesterday.
Berlusconi had previously denied having sex with Karima el-Mahroug, the 20-year-old Moroccan belly dancer known by her stage name Ruby Heartstealer, who is at the heart of the case.
In his statement Berlusconi said: “I was truly convinced I would be absolved because there was absolutely no possibility of being found guilty based on the evidence. I intend to resist the persecution because I am absolutely innocent and I don’t want to abandon my fight to make Italy a truly free and just country.”
During the trial, the court heard statements from Miss El-Mahroug, whom Berlusconi was convicted of paying for sex in 2010 when she was 17 and under the legal age of prostitution in Italy, along with dozens of other young women who were paid with cash and cars to dance semi-naked for him at his villa.
However, both Berlusconi and Miss El-Mahroug have denied having “intimate relations” with each other and neither of the two were present in the Milan court to hear the verdict. The politician was reported to be with his girlfriend and close associates at his villa in Arcore, near Milan, where the “bunga bunga” night parties took place.
Berlusconi is certain to appeal against the verdict and still retains his position as a senator in the Italian parliament and head of the centre-right Freedom People (PdL) party.