Italy's highest court upheld Silvio Berlusconi's acquittal in his infamous "bunga bunga" case today, giving the former premier a welcome legal victory as he tries to rally his Forza Italia party ahead of regional elections in May. The Court of Cassation rejected prosecutors' appeal and confirmed Berlusconi's acquittal on charges he paid for sex with an underage prostitute during raunchy, sex-fueled "bunga bunga" parties at his Milan villa, and used his influence to cover it up. A lower court had convicted the three-time former premier of both charges, and sentenced him to seven years in prison and a lifetime ban from holding public office. But an appeals court reversed the verdict last year—a decision that was confirmed by the Cassation today.
Prosecutors had alleged that Berlusconi paid Karima el-Mahroug, better known as Ruby, for sex while she was a minor and then intervened with police in 2010 to have her released when she was picked up on suspicion of theft. Meanwhile, Berlusconi last week completed his community service stint for a tax-fraud conviction that also cost him his seat in parliament. Despite today's court victory, Berlusconi's legal woes aren't over: Milan prosecutors are also investigating him for allegedly paying off witnesses in the "bunga bunga" case, and he's still on trial in Naples for alleged political corruption. (Read more Silvio Berlusconi stories.)