Lawyers: Berlusconi is acquitted in Italy corruption trial

ROME (AP) — Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian premier, was acquitted of judicial corruption charges on Thursday evening in a trial in Italy, his lawyers said.

Various Italian media, reporting from Siena, Tuscany, said Judge Simone Spina, in reading the verdict, said there was no evidence for conviction.

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 defense 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 defense 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 center-right party, Forza Italia, going on to serve three times as premier.