ROME: An Italian court on Monday (Tuesday in Manila) sentenced Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in jail and banned the former premier from public office after convicting him of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and abusing his power to hide the liaison.
Berlusconi attacked “an incredible sentence, of a violence never seen or heard before, handed down to try and eliminate me from political life,” while his lawyers said they would appeal.
The sentence went beyond the request of prosecutors, who had called for the billionaire, 76, to serve six years, and could spark serious tensions within Italy’s uneasy grand coalition government.
“I was truly convinced I would be absolved because there was absolutely no possibility of being found guilty based on the evidence,” Berlusconi said.
“I was truly convinced I would be absolved because there was absolutely no possibility of being found guilty based on the evidence,” he said, after he was sentenced to seven years in jail and banned for life from holding public office.
“I intend to resist the persecution because I am absolutely innocent and I don’t want to abandon my fight to make Italy a truly free and just country,” he said.
The sentence was “completely illogical,” his lawyer Niccolo Ghedini said, amid a clamour from supporters accusing the Milan judges of persecuting the three-time former prime minister.
The verdict brings to a climax a two-year trial which kicked off a media frenzy and sparked cheers and applause from anti-Berlusconi protesters outside the court.