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Prosecution Seeks Lifetime Political Ban On Berlusconi

The prosecutor in former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's trial on charges that he had sex with an underage prostitute is seeking a term of six years behind bars and a lifetime ban on the former premier from holding public office.

"Prosecutor Ilda Boccassini told the court that the young women invited to the former premier's parties 'were part of a system of prostitution organized for the pleasure of Silvio Berlusconi,' " The Associated Press reports.

Investigators believe Berlusconi, 76, "likely paid more than 4.5 million euros to the young exotic dancer at the center of a sex scandal," reports Italian news site Ansa.it.

Boccassini first opened the trial in April 2011, on charges that Berlusconi paid for sex with a minor and abused the power of his office.

The case made international headlines after Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan woman known simply as "Ruby," was revealed to have been 17 years old when she allegedly had sexual encounters with Berlusconi at his villa.

"The prosecution claims Berlusconi hosted orgies and erotic dances — dubbed 'bunga-bunga' — and had sex with the then-underage el-Mahroug in exchange for large sums of money," NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reported back in 2011. "But Berlusconi insists all his dinner parties are elegant and sober affairs, and denounces the charges as part of a communist conspiracy."

The prosecution delivered its closing arguments Monday. The trial reportedly will reconvene in June, with a verdict expected late that month.

Berlusconi suffered a setback in a separate case Friday when an appeals court upheld the sentence in a tax fraud case against the former leader and media tycoon. The punishment includes four years behind bars — three of which were amnestied — and a five-year ban on Berlusconi from holding public office, reports Corriere della Sera. Berlusconi is expected to file another appeal, this time to Italy's highest court.

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