A MILAN court has sentenced former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in jail and banned him from public office after finding him guilty of paying for sex with a minor and abusing his powers of office to cover up the affair.
The verdict adds to mounting complications facing Prime Minister Enrico Letta, whose fragile left-right coalition government is supported by Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party.
Berlusconi was found guilty of paying for sex with former teenaged nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, better known under her stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer", during the now notorious "bunga bunga" sex parties at his palatial home near Milan.
The panel of three judges, all women, also found the 76 year-old former premier guilty of abuse of office by arranging to have her released from police custody when she was detained in a separate theft case.
Berlusconi will not have to serve any jail time unless the sentence is confirmed on appeal.