ROME, July 18 (UPI) -- Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has successfully appealed a conviction for engaging in prostitution with a minor and a related charge that he had used his position of power to secure her release.
On Friday, an appeals court in Milan overturned the 2013 conviction that found him guilty of paying for sex from 17-year-old nightclub dancer Karimea El-Mahroug.
"The decision goes beyond our rosiest predictions," said Franco Coppi, Berlusconi's attorney, following the announcement.
Both Berlusconi and El-Mahroug denied they engaged in sexual relations, and Berlusconi maintained he didn't know she was a minor. The two met, he said, at a dinner party at his mansion. He admitted that he once phoned a police station regarding El-Mahroug's detention for allegedly stealing cash, but said he didn't press for her release.
In a statement following Friday's appellate court ruling, Berlusconi thanked his supporters.
"I'm deeply moved: only those who stood by me in these past years know what I've suffered for this unjust and infamous accusation."
Berlusconi is currently serving a community service sentence for a separate conviction of tax fraud.