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Published: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 2:55:01 AM
Updated: Friday January 3, 2014 MYT 2:55:55 AM

Berlusconi files appeals against sex conviction

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi smiles as he arrives to attend the book launch of his friend, TV presenter Bruno Vespa, in Rome December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi smiles as he arrives to attend the book launch of his friend, TV presenter Bruno Vespa, in Rome December 12, 2012. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

MILAN (Reuters) - Italian centre-right leader Silvio Berlusconi filed an appeal on Thursday against his conviction for paying for sex with a minor and abuse of office over former teenage nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, legal sources said on Thursday.

Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years jail and banned from holding public office after being found guilty of paying for sex with El Mahroug, better known under her stage name "Ruby the Heartstealer" when she was a minor.

He was also found guilty of abusing his powers as prime minister to have her released from police custody over separate theft allegations.

Berlusconi has always denied all of the charges and his lawyers asked for his conviction to be overturned completely.

Under the Italian legal system, no part of his sentence can take effect until the appeals process is completed.

He was banned from parliament and faces a year under house arrest or in community service after being found guilty of tax fraud in a separate case last year.

The prostitution accusations against Berlusconi date from 2010 and first surfaced when he was still prime minister, and added to a series of scandals just as the euro zone debt crisis hit its peak towards the end of 2011.

The court in Milan which convicted him said the 77-year-old media magnate was the ringmaster at the so-called "bunga bunga" sex parties at his villa outside Milan and had paid for sex with El Mahroug despite knowing that she was under the age of 18.

(Reporting by Ilaria Polleschi; Editing by Alison Williams)

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