Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ITALY - Silvio Berlusconi sentenced 7 yrs for sex with underage woman; banned from public life

Silvio Berlusconi
Original Article

06/24/2013

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was today sentenced to seven years in prison and banned from public office for life after being found guilty of paying a teenager for sex.

Berlusconi, 76, paid an underage Moroccan teenager for sex and then tried to cover it up with phone calls to police when she was arrested for alleged theft. Berlusconi and the woman had denied having had sex.

Prosecutors were seeking a six-year jail term for underage sex and abuse of power but a Milan court today handed him a longer sentence of seven years.

Berlusconi was also given a lifetime ban from politics after the former Prime Minister was found guilty today.

But the verdict can be appealed twice before the sentence becomes final, which could take months, or even years.

This means the former Premier will not have to spend any time in jail unless he loses his court appeals.

Berlusconi holds no official post in the current Italian government, but remains influential in the uneasy cross-party coalition that emerged after inconclusive February elections.

The verdict adds to mounting complications facing Prime Minister Enrico Letta, whose fragile left-right coalition government is supported by Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.

The charges against the billionaire media mogul stem from his infamous 'bunga bunga' parties in 2010 at his mansion near Milan, where he wined and dined beautiful young women while he was premier.

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 the Heart Breaker, have given evidence.

Ms El-Mahroug was called by the defence but failed to show on a couple of occasions, delaying the trial. Berlusconi's team eventually dropped her from the witness list.