Italian court acquits Berlusconi in sex case

An Italian appeals court on Friday acquitted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi in a sex-for-hire case, reversing a lower court conviction that had carried a seven-year prison sentence and a lifetime ban on holding political office.

The case revealed details of raunchy parties at his private villa attended by a bevy of aspiring showgirls.

The prosecution had alleged that Mr. Berlusconi had paid for sex with an underage prostitute and then using his influence to cover it up. He denied the charges.

Acquittal came just as Mr. Berlusconi was leaving a facility for Alzheimer’s patients where he is performing a sentence of community service in a separate tax fraud conviction.

Berlusconi thrust his hand from a car as he was being driven away from facility and a political supporter grabbed his hand and shook it. The window was then rolled up and the media mogul waved as he was driven away.

Prosecutors can challenge Friday’s acquittal in Italy’s highest criminal court, the Court of Cassation.

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