Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will learn today if he will go to prison as his long-running sex and corruption trial in Milan involving an alleged Moroccan prostitute, Karima El-Mahroug, comes to a close.
A verdict from the three female judges deciding the case is expected Monday afternoon. Prosecutors are seeking a six-year sentence for Berlusconi as well as a lifetime ban from holding public office. Just a few weeks ago, his appeal to overturn a four-year prison sentence and five-year ban on taking public office for tax fraud was upheld.
The 76-year-old former premier denies all the allegations, which include hosting “bunga-bunga” parties attended by women who were part of a prostitution network set up for just for him. One of the attendees, El Mahroug, was a minor at the time, according to the prosecution, which alleges he had sex with her and later abused his power trying to get her released after she was arrested for petty theft.
The pending verdict could have serious implications on the current Italian coalition government his People of Freedom party helps support. If Berlusconi is sentenced to prison or banned from public office, he may withdraw his support, possibly leading to an early election in which he would seek to rally his followers, many of whom believe he is the victim of politically motivated persecution.
Even if sentenced to prison, Berlusconi would not go to jail. He has the right to an appeal and to a third trial after that, meaning it would be many more years before he goes to prison, if ever.