An Italian court acquits former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of bribing a witness in a case of underage prostitution

On Thursday, an Italian court acquitted former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, after he was accused of bribing a witness in a previous case of prostitution of a minor.

The charges against “Cavaliere” were that he had paid 157,000 euros to Neapolitan singer and confidante Mariano Apicella to lie in his defence.

But a Rome court let Berlusconi out after prosecutor Roberto Felici argued there was no case to answer.

The judges also acquitted Apicella of her alleged perjury after the time limit for reaching a verdict for the crime had expired.

The media mogul and current senator was previously accused of soliciting sexual favors from a 17-year-old exotic dancer, Karima El Mahroug (better known as “Ruby the Heartstealer”) in 2009, shortly after he began his third term as prime minister.

Berlusconi was eventually acquitted of all charges in 2014, as the Court of Appeal confirmed that he could not have known Mahrog – who he claimed he believed was the niece of late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak – was still a minor.

However, the then Prime Minister’s alleged behavior while in office—with reports of vile ‘bunga bunga’ parties, in which Abishela himself was involved, widely circulated—contributed significantly to his political demise in the early 2010s.

Responding to Thursday’s ruling, Berlusconi said he was “happy and satisfied” with the outcome, claiming that he “assesses that the public prosecutor himself requested an acquittal.”

He added, “The elements presented by the defense made it clear beyond any doubt that there are no elements of ambiguity in this case.”

While such a trial might have worked in Berlusconi’s favour, it is far from the end of his legal vagaries. The former prime minister — whose party, Forza Italia, recently joined Italy’s new right-wing government — is accused of bribing 24 witnesses in a separate case that is expected to conclude in January next year.

If convicted, Berlusconi could potentially face jail time, with prosecutors seeking six years in prison.

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