Italy’s ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi acquitted in bribery trial

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday has been acquitted of allegedly bribing a witness in connection with an underage prostitution criminal case that he faced in 2013.

Berlusconi, founder and leader of the conservative Forza Italia party, was accused of paying a witness to make false statements about his infamous so-called Bunga Bunga parties with young women. The prosecutor had asked the court in Siena for a sentence of 4 years imprisonment, Italian media reports.

“I spoke to Berlusconi a little while ago and he is very relieved and satisfied,” said his lawyer Federico Cecconi, according to ANSA.

In 2013, Berlusconi was found guilty at first instance of paying Karima El Mahroug — a 17-year-old nightclub dancer — for sex, before an appeals court overturned the conviction. Berlusconi was accused of paying Danilo Mariani to testify in his favor, who said at court that Berlusconi’s only physical contact with his female guests was to shake hands.

But the court in Siena could not prove that Berlusconi had paid Mariani to lie, and so acquitted the former prime minister and tycoon. Mariani, however, was previously sentenced in May to two years in prison — found guilty of lying to the judges in the original trial.

As of now, Berlusconi still faces two additional bribery cases in Milan and Rome. The trials will be held in different courts according to the location of the banks that received the alleged bribes.

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