Italian former Premier Silvio Berlusconi was found not guilty Wednesday of witness tampering, in a trial related to the sexually charged “bunga bunga” parties he held at his villa near Milan while he was in office.
The six-year-old trial is the third and likely final one in a scandal that made headlines around the world in 2010 when Berlusconi — as a sitting premier — faced charges of having paid for sex with an underage girl. He was eventually acquitted, according to AP.
In the third trial, Berlusconi faced charges of paying off witnesses to lie in earlier trials. Prosecutors had sought a six-year prison sentence for him, along with 10 million euros ($10.7 million) in damages. A further 28 people, including the woman at the center of the scandal, Karima el-Mahroug, were also all found not guilty on Wednesday.
“I am very happy,″ el-Mahroug told reporters after hearing the acquittal, adding that it showed she had always spoken the truth. ”I just need a moment to assimilate this fact, to believe it.”
Berlusconi was not present as the verdict was read, but in an Instagram post said the acquittal had ended years of “suffering, of mud and of incalculable political damage.”
His lawyer, Federico Cecconi, called the verdict, which formally found no crime had been committed, “the fullest acquittal we could achieve.”
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