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'Stature validates leniency for Berlusconi' lawyers argue

Three-time premier appeals underage prostitution sentence

14 January, 14:13
'Stature validates leniency for Berlusconi' lawyers argue (ANSA) - Milan, January 14 - An appeal request made public Tuesday argues that Silvio Berlusconi should have been shown leniency when found guilty of paying an underage prostitute for sex and lying to cover it up, given the "extenuating circumstances" surrounding his stature as a three-time premier, the head of a political party and his advanced age. On January 2, the 77-year-old leader of the center-right Forza Italia party submitted an appeal to a Milan court against the seven-year sentence and lifetime ban from office handed down in June for paying Karima 'Ruby' El Mahroug for sex, then lying to police to spring her from jail in an unrelated theft charge, claiming she was the niece of fallen Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak and her detention could spark an international incident.

In their appeal, over 400 pages long, Berlusconi's attorneys said his "extremely high prestige" should afford him leniency "due to extenuating circumstances". In his several ongoing and previous trials, Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of a minority group of allegedly left-wing prosecutors and judges who he says are persecuting him for political reasons.

Several political associates of Berlusconi as well as 18 of the 32 young women who took part in his parties could be charged with committing perjury.

The women supported Berlusconi's claims that the gatherings at his home were not "bunga bunga" sex parties but innocent and merry affairs featuring burlesque performances.

The media mogul's legal woes took a harsh turn in 2013.

In November he was ejected from the Senate following his first-ever binding conviction in August, on tax-fraud charges at his Mediaset empire.