Former Italy PM Silvio Berlusconi And His Scandals

Silvio Berlusconi was dogged throughout his life by legal problems and scandals, which became as much a part of his legend

Himalaya Times
Read Time = 3 mins

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was dogged throughout his life by legal problems and scandals, which became as much a part of his legend as his work in politics, media and sport.

Convicted, once

Berlusconi, who was prime minister three times between 1994 and 2011, faced dozens of legal cases going back to the 1980s -- most of them for bribery or fraud linked to his various business interests.

Almost all the cases resulted either in acquittals under appeal to the Supreme Court or expired under the statute of limitations.

Berlusconi often took aim at the judiciary, portraying himself as the innocent victim of left-wing magistrates with a political agenda.

In 2013, however, he was forced out of parliament after his conviction for corporate tax fraud was upheld by the country's highest court.

He avoided jail time, being ordered instead to do a year of community service at a home for people with Alzheimer's Disease.

In 2015, a lower court convicted Berlusconi of paying a senator a bribe of three million euros (then $3.4 million) to quit the fragile centre-left coalition that governed Italy between 2006 and 2008, which played a part in bringing down the government.

That conviction was still subject to appeal when it timed out under statute of limitations rules.

Underage sex

In June 2013 he was sentenced to seven years in jail for paying for sex with a 17-year-old, Karima El-Mahroug, known as "Ruby the Heart Stealer".

The conviction was overturned on appeal in 2014, the judge ruling that there was reasonable doubt as to whether Berlusconi knew she was a minor.

Berlusconi was also cleared on appeal of abusing the powers of the prime minister's office with his efforts to avoid theft charges against El-Mahroug.

These included pretending she was the niece of then Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

The scandal over Ruby and Berlusconi's notorious "bunga bunga" parties -- which some described as orgies but he said were elegant dinners -- dragged on for years.

In February 2023, a Milan court acquitted him of bribing witnesses to lie about what happened, a verdict that followed acquittals in two related cases in Siena and Rome.

Berlusconi had been accused of doling out millions of euros in hush money in the form of houses, cars and monthly payouts.

His defence lawyers insisted, however, that the money was compensation for reputational damage for those involved in the case.

After the Milan verdict in 2023, Berlusconi said he had been cleared "after more than 11 years of suffering, mud-slinging and incalculable political damage".

Mafia ties?

Long suspected of links to the mafia, Berlusconi was investigated by authorities over such allegations, but never tried.

He has repeatedly denied having ties to organised crime.

His long-standing associate Marcello Dell'Utri, however, was jailed in the 2010s for having acted as a go-between for Berlusconi and the Sicilian Cosa Nostra mafia in the 1970s.

According to Italy's highest appeals court, Dell'Utri was responsible for Berlusconi's hiring of a Cosa Nostra member as his stable master at his villa outside Milan.

In 2012, the court said the billionaire had paid "conspicous sums" in protection money to the mafia over a period of two decades.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

In case you missed it