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Court Finds Berlusconi Guilty Of Sex Crime, Coverup

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

An Italian court has found former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi guilty of having sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of office.

The ruling by the court in Milan on June 24 bans Berlusconi from holding office but is not effective pending appeal.

Berlusconi rejected what he called an "incredible" ruling and insisted he was "absolutely innocent."

The court ruled that Silvio Berlusconi paid for sex with former nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, also known as "Ruby the Heartstealer," when she was under 18 and abused his power to cover it up.

The two-year trial has gripped Italy and focused attention on billionaire Berlusconi's alleged "bunga bunga" sex parties in his private villa outside Milan while he was premier in 2010.

The 76-year-old Berlusconi, who could face six years in prison if he fails to overturn the ruling in an appeal, denies all wrongdoing.

With reporting by Sky News and Reuters