Prosecution of Berlusconi Justified

Abuse of power is a reasonable suspicion

Whenever Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is in the news, chances are it won't be for something good. His reputation as a womanizer precedes him, and his encounters with women much younger than he is have led to a lot of criticism and mocking in recent years.

Until recently, however, he had never been in any real trouble for these escapades. While his approval rating was considerably low, no one was accusing him of doing anything illegal.

Until now, that is. Berlusconi was accused of paying for sex with Karima El Mahrough, a 17-year-old dancer. Here's where the situation gets a bit interesting: in the Italian legal system, sex with a 17-year-old is legal (the age of consent is 14), and sex with a prostitute is legal. So, it would seem like there's no problem.

But there is. While those actions, independently of each other, are both legal, it is illegal to pay for sex with a minor. So, on a rather strange technicality, if Berlusconi did have sex with El Mahrough for money with this alleged prostitute, he can be convicted of a crime.

Unfortunately for Berlusconi, this is not the only legal issue facing him. He has also been accused of bribing judges to receive favorable testimony, and has faced several accusations of corruption throughout his time as prime minister.

The biggest obstacle facing him is the allegation that he abused his power when calling the police on behalf of El Mahrough. If this is the case, he may have attempted to ensure a favorable outcome for her in any future legal action.

It is unknown if this actually occurred, but if so, it does constitute an abuse of power, and it is reasonable for Berlusconi to be prosecuted. Quite simply, if he attempted to use his position to his favor and prevent El Mahrough from facing legal prosecution, then he broke the law and should face the consequences for it.

What's interesting is that this would hardly be the worst perversion of the prime minister's role that has taken place during Berlusconi's administration. When looking at his history of bribery, sex scandals, and corruption, this is far from the worst thing he's ever done.

Still, if this is the manner in which the Italian people will be able to bring down Berlusconi, then by all means, they should go for it. We can't say for sure if Berlusconi is guilty, but considering his reckless disregard for the respect his position is supposed to inspire, it certainly wouldn't be a surprise.