[JURIST] Italy’s Court of Cassation [official website, in Italian] on Tuesday upheld the acquittal of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile, JURIST news archive]. Berlusconi was convicted [AP report] in 2013 of paying for sex with an underage exotic dancer and then abusing his power to cover up the crime. However, last year an appeals court overturned [JURIST report] the conviction and seven-year prison sentence, ruling that the evidence provided by the prosecution did not sufficiently prove that the former prime minister had known that the exotic dancer was only 17 when the incident occurred. Despite prosecutors’ appeal for a new trial, Italy’s top court upheld the acquittal, making the decision binding. The court will release its reasoning for its decision within 90 days.
Berlusconi has been at the center of several political scandals, though he has only begun to serve time [JURIST report] in the form of community service for his tax fraud conviction. Having been a defendant [JURIST report] in nearly 50 cases, Berlusconi has avoided prison through successful appeals and expired statute of limitations. He has, however suffered much political fallout as a result of his criminal charges. In October 2013 Berlusconi was ordered [JURIST report] to stand trial for allegedly bribing a senator to switch political parties. In March 2013 Berlusconi was convicted [JURIST report] of breaking secrecy rules by publishing the transcript of a taped phone conversation between him and a political rival.