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Berlusconi acquitted in sex-for-hire case

On Friday, an Italian appeals court acquitted former Premier Silvio Berlusconi in his infamous sex-for hire case. The decision reversed a conviction that would have given Berlusconi seven years in prison, in addition to a lifetime ban from political office.

Berlusconi, 77, had allegedly paid for sex with an underage prostitute and used his political power to cover the evidence. Berlusconi denied having sex with the woman and told the court he believed she was over 18.

Franco Coppi, Berlusconi's lawyer, told The Associated Press that he would have been content with an acquittal for lack of evidence. But the court ruled that no crimes were committed, which Coppi said "goes beyond the rosiest predictions."

The announcement comes as Berlusconi was departing for a community service sentence at an Alzheimer's facility, a sentence that he is performing for a separate tax fraud conviction. Berlusconi is also currently on trial in Naples for "political corruption" and is under investigation in Milan for "witness-tampering" in the sex-for-hire trial, the AP reports.