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Top court in Italy upholds Berlusconi acquittal

Italy's highest court has upheld an acquittal for former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The media tycoon had been charged with paying for sex with a minor and using the power of his political office to cover it up.

Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted on Tuesday evening of charges stemming back to the infamous "bunga bunga" case.

Italy's top court handed down its decision after nine hours of deliberation. It was the second and final acquittal in the case, in which the former prime minister had been accused of paying for sex with underage dancer Karima El Mahroug, who was known as Ruby Heart Stealer. Prosecutors also accused him of using his political power to cover up the incident.

Berlusconi had been

found guilty

of the charges in 2013, for which he had been sentenced to seven years in prison and a lifetime ban from public office.

However, appeals court judges

acquitted him

in July after ruling that the evidence provided by the prosecution did not sufficiently prove that the former prime minister had known the exotic dancer was only 17 when the incident occurred.

While Tuesday's acquittal clears the 78-year old billionaire of the most infamous charges against him, he remains embroiled in other scandals. He is currently under investigation for allegedly bribing women who had attended the "bunga bunga" parties to give false testimony in the Ruby trial.

kms/gsw (AFP, dpa)

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