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Italy’s Court of Cassation has confirmed former PM Silvio Berlusconi’s acquittal on charges of abuse of office and paying for an underage prostitute in what is known as “Rubygate”.
Silvio Berlusconi was convicted in 2013 in what became known as the “bunga bunga” case or Rubygate, but won an appeal in 2014.
Italy’s highest court has now rejected prosecutors’ appeals to overturn the acquittal and hold a fresh trial.
The three-time Italian leader remains embroiled in several legal battles.
Silvio Berlusconi and the 17-year-old dancer involved, Karima El-Mahroug, known as “Ruby the Heartstealer”, denied having had s**.
The judges at the Court of Cassation took more than nine hours to reach their decision, and will issue a written ruling detailing their reasoning with the next 90 days.
The verdict leaves Silvio Berlusconi free to rally his Forza Italia party as it struggles to maintain a leading role in Italian politics, analysts say.
He remains under investigation for allegedly paying off witnesses in the “bunga bunga” case, and is on trial in Naples for alleged political corruption.
Last week Silvio Berlusconi completed a community service sentence for tax fraud, at a care home.
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Silvio Berlusconi has won an appeal against his conviction for paying an underage prostitute.
The seven-year prison sentence has now been thrown out by judges in Milan, in the so-called “Ruby” case.
Last year a court found that Italy’s former prime minister had paid for s** with 17-year-old nightclub dancer Karima El-Mahroug known as “Ruby the Heartstealer”.
Silvio Berlusconi, 77, is doing community service after being sentenced for tax fraud.
That was a separate case involving his business empire Mediaset.
Silvio Berlusconi has won an appeal against his conviction in Ruby case (photo AFP/Getty Images)
Silvio Berlusconi helps out once a week at a home for people with Alzheimer’s disease.
He began doing that service in May – and so far it is the only final judgment against him, despite various other court cases.
In the Ruby case both Silvio Berlusconi and Karima El-Mahroug denied having had s**.
During the trial reports emerged of “bunga-bunga” parties at his private villa attended by showgirls. Some of the female guests however described them as “elegant dinner parties”.
Silvio Berlusconi was also acquitted of a charge that he abused his prime ministerial powers by pressuring the police to free Karima El-Mahroug when she was in custody.
In another separate case Silvio Berlusconi is accused of having bribed a senator.
Silvio Berlusconi was banned from holding political office for two years and expelled from the Senate.
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Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of having intimate relationship with underage Karima El Mahroug, and abusing the power of his office.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, has been sentenced to seven years in jail and banned from public office, pending the outcome of an appeal.
Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of having intimate relationship with underage Karima El Mahroug
The former prime minister and media tycoon had denied all the allegations against him.
In this latest court ruling, he was found guilty of paying for intimate relationship with a Moroccan girl, Karima El Mahroug, known as “Ruby the Heart Stealer”, who was just 17 at the time.
The judgement could have major political repercussions for Italy, analysts say.
They say a guilty ruling could weaken current PM Enrico Letta’s coalition government, which depends on the support of Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right party, People of Freedom (PdL).
But Silvio Berlusconi will not have to spend any time in jail unless a lengthy appeals process is exhausted.
Silvio Berlusconi is already embroiled in several other court cases and was given a four-year sentence for tax fraud in October 2012.
“Ruby” Karima El-Mahroug, the dancer alleged to have had paid s** as a minor with Italy’s ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told a court that she had lied to investigators in 2010.
Karima El-Mahroug said she had “made up” details about er***c parties held at his villa while Silvio Berlusconi was still Italy’s prime minister.
She was testifying at the trial of three former Silvio Berlusconi aides accused of soliciting prostitutes for him.
Silvio Berlusconi is being tried separately on charges of paying for underage s** with Karima El-Mahroug.
Both the dancer and Silvio Berlusconi have denied the allegations.
Karima El-Mahroug is not charged with any crime in either case and is formally recognised in both as an injured party.
On Friday, Karima El-Mahroug appeared as a witness at the trial of TV presenter Emilio Fede, celebrity agent Lele Mora and Nicole Minetti, a local councilor and former showgirl.
They are accused of providing prostitutes for Silvio Berlusconi’s so-called “bunga-bunga” party evenings.
Karima El-Mahroug, known as “Ruby the Heart Stealer”, told the court she had lied about receiving 187,000 euros from Silvio Berlusconi for attending several of his parties.
She said she “made up” the sum to show off.
“Ruby” Karima El-Mahroug told a court that she had lied to Silvio Berlusconi case investigators in 2010
The dancer also went back on testimony that young women had bathed n**ed at Silvio Berlusconi’s residence, saying they had only stripped off to their lingerie and there had been “no contact” with the ex-PM.
“I am sorry I talked nonsense when I spoke to prosecutors,” said Karima El-Mahroug who is thought to have been aged 17 when she went to the parties.
“The majority of the things I said were not true.”
Prosecutors are expected to make their closing statements on May 31.
Meanwhile, a verdict in Silvio Berlusconi’s trial on charges of sleeping with an underage prostitute is due on June 24.
Earlier this week, a prosecutor who requested a six-year sentence and a lifelong ban from office, said she received threats including a letter with two bullets.
Silvio Berlusconi already faces a four-year prison sentence and five-year ban from public office for a fraud conviction.
He is expected to appeal against the verdict to Italy’s highest court, the Court of Cassation.
Earlier this month Italian prosecutors requested a new corruption trial against Silvio Berlusconi, saying he had allegedly bribed a left-wing senator to defect to his right-wing People of Freedom party (PDL) in 2006.
Silvio Berlusconi claims he is the victim of a campaign by left-wing magistrates.
Silvio Berlusconi hosted prostitution parties at his Milan villa and paid women with favors and cash, Italian prosecutors at his trial have said.
Former PM Silvio Berlusconi, on trial for paying an underage prostitute, Karima El Mahroug, said he never had to pay for “intimate relations”.
Both Silvio Berlusconi and Karima El Mahroug – better known by her stage name “Ruby Heartstealer” – have denied ever having an intimate relationship.
A verdict in the trial is expected later this month.
Prosecutor Antonio Sangermano said the parties organized at the villa in Arcore, north-east of Milan, were the “expression of a tried and tested prostitution system organized to satisfy the sexual pleasure of Silvio Berlusconi, and of which the young Moroccan girl was completely a part”.
In his closing arguments, Antonio Sangermano said that the parties involved dinner, erotic dancing and then sex between aspiring television starlets and the invited guests.
Silvio Berlusconi said he was “a bit surprised and amused” at the “imaginative” description of his “infamous dinners”.
“I have had the twin fortune – perhaps deserved – of never having to pay a woman or girl for intimate relations and always being able to give assistance to whoever asked me for help,” he said in a statement.
“Probably the prosecutor has had neither of these two ‘fortunes’ and he makes these assertions as if I were him.”
Silvio Berlusconi hosted prostitution parties at his Milan villa and paid women with favors and cash, Italian prosecutors at his trial have said
The case is one of several that have dogged the former prime minister. In the most recent, Silvio Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud in connection with the purchase of broadcasting rights by his Mediaset TV company.
Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to a year in prison and barred from holding office for five years – though this will not be enforced until his appeal is complete.
On Friday, the prosecution is scheduled to set out the sentence it says Silvio Berlusconi should face if found guilty in the sex trial.
Silvio Berlusconi, 76, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted, though nothing will be finalized until he has been allowed to appeal twice – normally a lengthy process in the Italian legal system.
The continued scandal around Silvio Berlusconi has made other parties increasingly reluctant to work with him in parliament after last week’s inconclusive election, where his centre-right group achieved second place.
Centre-left leader Pier Luigi Bersani on Monday issued an ultimatum to anti-establishment comic Beppe Grillo, who gained one in four votes, to support a new government or return to the polls.
An Italian court has denied the request of former PM Silvio Berlusconi to halt a trial where he is accused of having sex with an under-age prostitute.
The court in Milan also decided they did not need to hear testimony from Moroccan club dancer Karima El Mahroug.
Silvio Berlusconi’s lawyers requested the trial be halted during elections, where he is standing for prime minister.
Both he and Karima El Mahroug have denied ever having sex. Sex with a prostitute who is under 18 is a crime in Italy.
Silvio Berlusconi is standing in the election, after stepping down from a third term as prime minister in November 2011, when he was replaced by the technocrat Mario Monti.
Lawyer Niccolo Ghedini said Silvio Berlusconi would be too busy campaigning to follow the case or attend court – and also feared the trial could influence the election.
But judges rejected the application.
Prosecutors have accused the defence of trying to prolong, and now delay, the trial to avoid a verdict before the election, at the end of February.
An Italian court has denied the request of Silvio Berlusconi to halt a trial where he is accused of having sex with under-age prostitute Karima El Mahroug, better known as Ruby Heartstealer
Karima El Mahroug, better known by her nickname “Ruby Heartstealer”, had arrived at the trial to give testimony for the defence.
She has been called twice before, but has failed to show up, apparently because she was on holiday in Mexico.
Sivio Berlusconi, now 76, is accused of paying to have sex with Karima El Mahroug in 2010 when she was 17.
The billionaire media mogul has admitted sending Karima El Mahroug money – but insists he was just making gifts to a friend in need.
Prosecutors say they had sex on 13 occasions.
He denies having had sex with her, and testified that, in any case, she had told him she was 24.
Karima El Mahroug also denies having sex with him – or being a prostitute.
Silvio Berlusconi is also accused of abuse of power, for intervening after Karima El Mahroug was briefly held by police over theft claims.
He allegedly urged police officers to release her, telling them, falsely, that she was a granddaughter of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
He admits making the phone call, but denies putting police under pressure – and testified that Karima El Mahroug had told him she was related to Hosni Mubarak.
Silvio Berlusconi faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has denied any “intimate ties” with underage prostitute Ruby Rubacuori he is charged with.
Speaking at his trial in Milan, Silvio Berlusconi said there were never scenes “of a sexual nature” at his home.
Silvio Berlusconi said the expression “bunga-bunga” to refer to alleged sex parties came from a joke he had used from time to time.
Referring to the charge of abusing his powers to get the girl, nicknamed Ruby, released from police custody, he denied ever having pressured Milan police.
The girl, Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El-Mahroug, had been arrested for suspected theft.
Silvio Berlusconi, now 76, is accused of paying to have sex with Karima El-Mahroug – who is widely known as Ruby Rubacuori (“heart-stealer”) – in 2010 when she was 17.
In a statement before judges in Milan, he said she was 24 “as she herself said”.
Prosecutors maintain that the former prime minister had sex with Karima El-Mahroug on 13 occasions.
“I have never had any intimate relations with her,” Silvio Berlusconi said.
Silvio Berlusconi has denied any “intimate ties” with underage prostitute Ruby Rubacuori he is charged with
Karima El-Mahroug has always denied having sex with the prime minister when she was 17 – or being a prostitute.
“I can exclude with absolute certainty that there were ever any scenes of a sexual nature” at his Milan villa, the Italian media mogul and politician said.
Correspondents have promised wire-tap evidence expected to reveal how women were procured for parties at the villa.
The list of 78 witnesses named by Silvio Berlusconi includes Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, Hollywood star George Clooney and his girlfriend, and the Italian model and TV star Elisabetta Canalis.
All are said to have been guests at one of Silvio Berlusconi’s parties.
The former leader told the court on Wednesday that he had hosted dinners where everybody ate together – with him at the centre monopolizing the conversation. There had also been dancing at his children’s discotheque.
Silvio Berlusconi, who resigned over Italy’s economic crisis last November, is said to have urged police officers to release Ruby, allegedly telling them she was a granddaughter of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Referring to the abuse-of-power charge, he said: “I have never exercised pressure on officials of the Milan police.”
“The girl said she was Egyptian, coming from an important family related to Mubarak,” he said.
Silvio Berlusconi added that he had believed her and had telephoned police because he did not want to provoke “a diplomatic incident”, but that the call had been limited to “seeking information”.
Silvio Berlusconi faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.