Judges in a Milan court have retired to consider their verdict on Silvio Berlusconi in the ‘Rubygate’ trial, where the former Italian prime minister is accused of paying for sex with an underage prostitute, and abuse of office.
The prosecutor has demanded a six-year jail sentence and to bar Berlusconi from ever holding public office again, and yet, despite the case having taken 27 months already with 50 hearings, it could go on a lot longer with two appeals to come.
There has been speculation a guilty verdict might mean trouble for the Italian government if Berlusconi’s party decides to withdraw support if it feels he is not getting protection from the prime minister.
“A guilty verdict will not have any major consequences on the government because it is the court of first instance. So there will be two other hearings, two other appeals and that will take a long time. God knows when, or if, it will come to final judgement,” said James Walston, Professor of Italian and Comparative Politics at the American University of Rome.
The 76-year-old politician is not out of the woods yet, as he only has one appeal left in a tax fraud case which could see him jailed for four years by this time next year.