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Berlusconi’s Acquittal Upheld In ‘Ruby the Heart Stealer’ Trial

Former Italian President Silvio Berlusconi's 2014 acquittal from charges of underage prostitution and abuse of power has been upheld.

by Nick Panzarella
Mar 10 2015, 10:20pm

Photo by Luca Bruno/AP

The Italian Supreme Court has finally spoken.

After nine hours of deliberation, former Italian President Silvio Berlusconi's 2014 acquittal from charges of underage prostitution and abusive use of power has been upheld. This was the third and final time that the case could be appealed, making this the second major criminal embroilment that Forza Italia's leader has put to rest for good this month.

The court will release a written ruling explaining their decision within 90 days.

The philandering former president, fresh off his stint of community service over a tax fraud conviction, was brought to trial today at Italy's highest court to settle accusations of underage prostitution and abusive use of power in what has come to be known as the "Ruby the Heart Stealer" case.

Convicted of the crimes in 2013, the ruling against the 78-year-old, which came with a seven-year prison term, was overturned upon appeal in 2014.

The former president and billionaire media tycoon was accused of having sex with then-17-year-old Karima El Mahroug, or "Ruby the Heart Stealer," at his infamous "bunga bunga" parties in his Milan villa in 2011. The sex fueled parties were supplied with call girls — now known as "the Olgettine" — by convicted felon Gianpaolo Tarantini.

"The judgment of the Court of Appeal recognizes the fact that paid prostitution occurred at Arcore (Berlusconi's residence and site of debauchery)," stated the defense's lawyer Franco Coppi.

"That is something that even we, as the defense, do not question. But what is missing is evidence the Berlusconi knew that Ruby was a minor," he said.

Italian Attorney General Eduardo Scardaccione said that it's not believable, from a logical point of view, that the former president didn't know El Mahroug's age.

"The minor age issue was not an accident, and the definitive proof of [Berlusconi's] knowledge is in the moment of the phone call in which he asks for custody of Ruby," he said today. "One only asks for the custody of a minor."

Related: Berlusconi Finishes Community Service Early — But Faces Final Chapter in 'Ruby the Heartstealer' Saga

In 2010, El Mahroug was arrested for the accused theft of €3,000. Upon hearing the news, Berlusconi called Milan Police Commissioner Pietro Ostuni and demanded the minor be given to then Lombardy Regional Counselor Nicole Minetti's custody, claiming that El Mahroug was the niece of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"The Mubarak's niece episode was worthy of a Mel Brooks film," said Scardaccione. "The whole world was laughing at us behind our backs."

Demanding that Berlusconi's sentence be reinstated, the attorney general elaborated on El Mahroug's release into Minetti's custody, claiming it was indeed an illegal abuse of power. "There was an overpowering violence to obtain such an illicit outcome," he said.

"Ostuni's will was put to bed... Is there room to maintain that the pressure was resistible?" he asked. "No, Police Commissioner Ostuni was frozen by the disproportionate manner with which the call was made. The intrusion had such firepower that it erased any autonomous choice from [him]."

Berlusconi is concurrently being tried for bribing at least 18 call girls being kept at a Milan residence — including Ruby — to buy their silence regarding his trials.

The attorney general said today that Berlusconi had a "dragon's passion" for minors. But according to him, the opposite is true.

"My problem has always been that women fall in love with me," he's recorded saying on a wire tap. "It's something I've suffered from all my life." Unfortunately for him, presiding judge Nicola Milo is a man.