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Berlusconi convicted for sex offense
June 25, 2013, 4:41 am

The court also found the former leader guilty of abusing his office [Getty Images]

The court also found the former leader guilty of abusing his office [Getty Images]

A court in Milan on Monday sentenced former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in prison for paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office.

It took three female judges over seven hours to find him guilty on both charges, media reported. Berlusconi was also banned from public office for life, media reports said.

The 76-year-old ex-premier will not have to serve any time in jail while he is appealing the court ruling, the BBC reported Monday.

Berlusconi and Karima El Mahroug, or Ruby the Heartstealer – the Moroccan woman concerned – deny they had sex at sex parties at Berlusconi’s mansion in 2010, when she was 17, the British broadcaster said.

“I intend to resist this persecution because I am absolutely innocent,” the BBC quoted him as saying after the verdict was read.

Having sex with a woman under 18 is punishable by a prison sentence in Italy. Berlusconi claimed the woman told him she was older.

The Milan court also found him guilty of abuse of office, by helping El Mahroug to be released from police custody when she was arrested on theft charges. The former leader had claimed that El Mahroug was the grand-daughter of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and that arresting her would cause a diplomatic ruckus.

Berlusconi is already embroiled in a few other court cases. In 2012 he was given four years for tax fraud, and the process of appeal is not over yet.

The prosecution had demanded a six-year term. When Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo Ghedini heard the verdict, he announced an appeal.

“This is beyond reality. The judges even went beyond the prosecutors’ request,” Ghedini told journalists outside the court as quoted by the BBC.

Source: Agencies