Italy’s Berlusconi acquitted in starlet bribery trial

An Italian court cleared billionaire ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Wednesday of paying people to lie about his infamous “bunga bunga” parties, putting an end to a protracted sex scandal.

The 86-year-old media mogul was charged with buying “quiet and lies” about his infamously hedonistic soirees, which he has long claimed were exquisite dinners, by paying young stars and other people.

“I have finally been acquitted after more than 11 years of suffering, mud-slinging and incalculable political damage,” Berlusconi said in a statement issued following the Milan court hearing, which he did not attend.

The senator had already been found not guilty in two related trials of suspected bribery, in Siena in 2021 and Rome in 2022. The senator’s Forza Italia party is a member of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s ruling government.

As a media magnate, owner of a football club, and three-time prime minister, Berlusconi has dominated Italian public life for decades. He has also long been the subject of court disputes, the majority of which he has won.

Although he is not a minister, Meloni’s four-month-old administration would have been embarrassed by a guilty verdict.

Although the prosecution still has the option to appeal, Berlusconi’s political supporters welcomed the decision, with Meloni noting that it “puts an end to a long legal drama.”

The decision is the result of a judicial battle that started in 2010 when Berlusconi, who was the prime minister at the time, was charged with misusing his position to defend teenage Moroccan club dancer Karima El-Mahroug.

She was arrested by the police for theft under the stage name “Ruby the Heart Stealer,” but was later released when Berlusconi claimed she was the niece of Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt.

When Ruby was only 17 years old, Berlusconi was accused of paying for sex with her in 2010.

This article has been posted by a News Hour Correspondent. For queries, please contact through [email protected]
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