An appeals court in Italy has overturned the conviction of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on charges that he paid for sex with an underage prostitute and then abused his power to cover up the crime.
The Milan court unexpectedly threw out last year’s verdict against the billionaire politician, who was sentenced to seven years in prison. Prosecutors are expected to appeal the decision to Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, with a likely decision sometime next year.
Reuters says: “Berlusconi was accused of paying for sex with former nightclub dancer Charisma El Mahout, better known under her stage name ‘Ruby the Heart stealer,’ when she was under 18, and of abusing his authority to get her released from police custody over unrelated theft accusations.”
The Wall Street Journal adds: “Mr. Berlusconi, who was also banned from public office and ousted from Italy’s Senate as a result of the tax fraud conviction, has always denied the charges in the sex case, which dates back to May 2010.”
As we reported in a profile of Berlusconi when he left office in 2011, many politicians inside and outside of Italy were eager to see the controversial leader exit. However, his numerous court cases have continued to follow him. Last year, a five-judge panel of the Court of Cassation rejected Berlusconi’s appeal of the tax fraud conviction, prompting celebrations on the streets of Rome.