This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 3 °C Monday 11 November, 2019
Advertisement

Berlusconi sentenced to seven years in jail for sex with a minor

The former prime minister is unlikely to serve any time, given his age – but the ruling is a major political blow.

Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi
Image: AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

THE FORMER Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been sentenced to seven years in jail after being found guilty of having sex with a minor.

The 76-year-old three-time premier has also been banned from holding public office.

Berlusconi was found to have paid for sex with a then 17-year-old Moroccan-born dancer, Karima El-Mahroug, at several erotically-charged ‘Bunga bunga’ parties – and, perhaps more seriously, to have lobbied police to secure her release when she was later arrested for theft.

Defence lawyers claimed Berlusconi believed El-Mahroug – nicknamed ‘Ruby the Heart Stealer’ – to be the niece of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and that he had wanted to avoid a supposed diplomatic incident.

Neither Berlusconi nor El-Mahroug were in present in court in Milan for the ruling.

The ruling is unlikely to see Berlusconi serve time behind bars – the sentence will not be enforced until the appeals process has been exhausted.

However, the verdict is a major political blow and a huge embarrassment to Italy’s ruling coalition, in which Berlusconi’s People of Freedom is a major partner.

The sentence handed down by the panel of three female judges was longer than the six-year jail term that prosecutors had sought.

Karima el Mahroug, second from right, preparing to give testimony in court in May. (AP Photo/Giuseppe Aresu)

A former cruise ship singer, Berlusconi has been under investigation – or on trial – ever since entering politics in the 1990s after a career in construction and the media.

A Milan court last month upheld his conviction for tax fraud, confirming the punishment of a year in prison and a five-year ban from public office – which has also been frozen pending a second appeal.

Three of his friends – a showbusiness agent, a former network anchor and a former regional assemblywoman – are on trial on pimping charges, in a separate case linked to this one.

Prosecutors in Naples have also requested a trial against Berlusconi on allegations that he bribed a left-wing senator with €3 million to join his party and topple a government.

Despite his conviction today, however, and even if he were convicted in any other trial, Berlusconi is unlikely ever to see the inside of a prison cell because of lenient sentencing guidelines for people aged over 70.

Additional reporting by AFP

Explainer: Berlusconi: the four current cases against him

More: Thousands attend rally for Berlusconi – despite his conviction for tax fraud >

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

Read next:

COMMENTS (87)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel