Italy: Berlusconi Sentenced to 7 Years, Banned From Office
An Italian court has sentenced former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in prison and banned him from public office for life after finding him guilty of paying for sex with a minor and abusing his authority to mask the crime, the Boston Globe reported.
The trial concerned Berlusconi’s infamous “bunga bunga” parties, where women allegedly attended parties at his residence in return for cash and gifts. The prosecution claimed Berlusconi paid an underage woman named Karima El-Mahroug for sex in 2010, the Globe reported. When she was arrested for theft later in the year, Berlusconi asked police to intervene on her behalf. The prosecution alleged that Berlusconi made the call to in an attempt to avoid scrutiny of his sexual relationship with El-Mahroug.
Berlusconi strongly denied the charges. He claimed he believed El-Mahroug was the niece of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, and that he made the call hoping to avoid a diplomatic incident. He and El-Mahroug denied they had sex.
Berlusconi will remain free and legally able to continue political activities, pending an appeals process. Two more courts may hear the case before the decision is final.
The former PM was found guilty of tax-fraud in a separate case in 2012. Two lower courts upheld the verdict and a decision from Italy’s highest court is expected this year, Reuters reported. If the conviction stands, Berlusconi would face a four-year prison term and a five-year ban on public office.