Berlusconi awaits appeals court ruling on sex-for-hire guilty verdict

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An Italian court has begun considering former Premier Silvio Berlusconi's appeal against a conviction of paying for sex with an underage teen, who was among a bevy of aspiring showgirls regularly attending so-called bunga-bunga parties at his private villa.

Berlusconi was sentenced to seven years and handed a lifetime political ban after being convicted last year of paying for sex with an underage prostitute and then using his influence to cover it up. Berlusconi denies the charges.

The appellate decision is expected later Friday. Verdicts in Italy are not considered final until all appeals are exhausted, and Berlusconi will have one more — to Italy's highest court.

The 77-year-old three-time premier is currently doing weekly community service stints as part of a tax-fraud conviction.