FILE – In this Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021 file photo, Silvio Berlusconi leaves a polling station in Milan, Italy.
Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted of judicial corruption charges on Thursday evening in a trial in Tuscany, his lawyers said.
Various Italian media reported the judge said there was no evidence for conviction as he read the verdict.
Prosecutors had alleged that Berlusconi had sought to corrupt with payoffs witnesses who would be testifying about what happened at the so-called “bunga bunga” parties with young female guests at his villa in Arcore, on the outskirts of Milan.
La Repubblica daily quoted one of the defence lawyers, Federico Cecconi, as telling journalists he had informed Berlusconi about the acquittal, and that the 85-year-old billionaire media mogul was “obviously relieved and satisfied.”
Also acquitted of judicial corruption was a pianist who worked at Arcore during the evenings, which the defence had described as elegant dinner parties, Italian news reports said.
Prosecutors had sought conviction and a prison sentence of four years for each of the two defendants.
The trial was an off-shoot of a criminal case that ended up in Italy’s top criminal court. That court in 2015 upheld a 2014 appeals court acquittal of Berlusconi on charges that he had paid for sex with an underage prostitute during the “bunga bunga” parties and had used his influence to cover it up.
Berlusconi jumped into politics three decades ago, forming his centre-right party, Forza Italia, going on to serve three times as premier.