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Defense says Berlusconi's age, political stature warrant leniency

  |   Jan. 14, 2014 at 12:24 PM
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MILAN, Italy, Jan. 14 (UPI) -- An appeal by Silvio Berlusconi argued the ex-Italian prime minister should have been shown leniency on a prostitution conviction, given his political stature.

The appeal, filed Jan. 2 but made public Tuesday, said Berlusconi should have been afforded leniency when he was found guilty of paying an underage prostitute for sex and lying to hide it, given the "extenuating circumstances" surrounding him because of his three terms as prime minister, his leadership of a political party and his age, ANSA reported.

Attorneys for the 77-year-old leader of the center-right Forza Italia party submitted their appeal to a Milan court of the seven-year sentence and lifetime ban from office handed down in June. He was convicted of paying then-underage Karima "Ruby" el-Mahroug for sex, then lying to police to secure her release from jail on an unrelated theft charge, claiming she was the niece of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

In the appeal Berlusconi's defense team said his "extremely high prestige" should afford him leniency "due to extenuating circumstances." In several ongoing and previous trials, Berlusconi denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of overzealous prosecution for political reasons.

In November he was tossed from the Senate following his first-ever upheld conviction on tax fraud charges at his Mediaset empire.

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