Silvio Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years in jail and barred from public office Monday for soliciting an underage prostitute and abusing his office to help that alleged prostitute get out of jail, but he still has two chances to appeal and probably won't see the inside of a cell even if the convictions are upheld.
The former three-time Italian prime minister and long-time media baron was convicted on one charge of paying Karima El Mahroug, also known as Ruby the Heart Stealer, a then-17-year-old showgirl who attended Berlusconi's "bunga bunga" sex parties. The other charge was abuse of office for arranging her release from prison, allegedly out of fear that she might tell police about those parties. Berlusconi's defense argued he thought she was the 17-year-old daughter of Hosni Mubarak.
Unfortunately, the judge didn't buy it and handed down a verdict beyond what prosecutors were asking for — they only asked for six years in prison and a five-year ban from office. The judge went above and beyond their request, prompting his lawyer to say the decision was "beyond all logic." Berlusconi's legal team now has two chances to appeal before he'll ever do any hard time.
But let's not forget that Berlusconi is already taking his other one-year jail sentence to Italy's highest court. He was found guilty of juicing the value on U.S. movie broadcast rights for his television channel Mediaset to avoid paying taxes. But the prospect of Berlusconi actually going to jail remains very slim, even if the verdict is upheld, thanks to Italy's overcrowded jail system. More than likely, he'll serve out his time within the hard confines of an Italian villa.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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