From BBC - News -

Italian Ex-PM Berlusconi Sentenced In Sex Case

Silvio Berlusconi

Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi arrives for a press conference in Gerno, near Milan, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012. (Luca Bruno/AP)

Italy's former PM Silvio Berlusconi has been found guilty of having sex with an underage prostitute, and abusing the power of his office.

He has been sentenced to seven years in jail and banned from public office, pending the outcome of an appeal.

The 76-year-old media tycoon had denied all the allegations against him.

Mr Berlusconi is already embroiled in several other court cases. In October 2012 he was given a four-year sentence for tax fraud.

In this latest court ruling, he was found guilty of paying for sex with a Moroccan girl, Karima El Mahroug, known as "Ruby the Heart Stealer", who was just 17 at the time.

The judgement could have major political repercussions for Italy, analysts say.

They say a guilty ruling could weaken current Prime Minister Enrico Letta's coalition government, which depends on the support of Mr Berlusconi's centre-right party, People of Freedom (PdL).

But Mr Berlusconi will not have to spend any time in jail unless a lengthy appeals process is exhausted.