20 Jul 2013

Berlusconi associates found guilty of procuring

5:46 pm on 20 July 2013

Three associates of former Italian prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have been found guilty of procuring prostitutes for his parties.

Emilio Fede, Lele Mora and Nicole Minetti were given jail sentences of between five and seven years.

Berlusconi was sentenced by three female judges last month to seven years in prison for paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug, who was then aged 17. Both Berlusconi and Ms Mahroug deny having had sex, the BBC reports, and she says she has never been a prostitute.

Ms Mahroug is one of the women that the three associates were accused of procuring.

Berlusconi is appealing against the earlier ruling, which also banned him from public office. He remains a free man and a member of parliament while he does so. He insists the parties were actually dinners where female guests performed "burlesque" dancing.

His three associates deny the charges and are likely to appeal against their convictions.

The BBC reports Berlusconi has blamed legal cases against him on left-wing elements in the judiciary, who he says are determined to smear him and drive him out of politics.