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Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi's under-age sex appeal trial opens

Published on Jun 20, 2014 5:33 PM
 
Italian tycoon and former prime minister Sivlio Berlusconi (centre) arrives in a courtroom in Naples on June 19, 2014, to testify in a trial. Silvio Berlusconi's appeal trial against a conviction for paying for sex with an underage prostitute opened Friday, June 20, 2014 without the former premier. -- PHOTO: AFP 

MILAN (AFP) - Silvio Berlusconi's appeal trial against a conviction for paying for sex with an underage prostitute opened Friday without the former premier, who was doing community service for a separate tax fraud conviction.

The 77-year-old former premier was sentenced last year to seven years in jail and banned from holding public office for having sex with "Ruby the Heart Stealer" at what prosecutors described as erotic parties at his luxury home.

A definitive guilty verdict could hamper Berlusconi's liberty: while Italy tends to be lenient towards over-70s found guilty of non-violent crimes, the billionaire would no longer be eligible for community service and would likely be sentenced to house arrest.

The media mogul has been forced to drop the lawyers who defended him in the trial, after they were caught up in a witness corruption probe launched amid allegations of bribes paid to girls taking the stand to defend Berlusconi.

 
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