He's back. Scandal-prone media mogul and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted by an Italian appeals court of charges of abuse of office and paying for sex with a minor. The verdict, overturning a decision by a lower court last year, surprised observers and cleared the way for the 77-year-old three-time prime minister to return to more active involvement in the politics of his right-wing party Forza Italia.
So, politics as usual in Italy? The court won't release the reasoning behind its decision for 90 days, but Berlusconi's lawyer Franco Coppi hailed it as "a verdict that goes beyond our rosiest expectations." Still there may be a bright spot in what looks like another case of money doing the dirty work in il bel paese. With their leader free, Forza Italia may be more inclined to work with current center-left Prime Minster Matteo Renzi to pass his constitutional reforms--the most far-reaching ever proposed to the post-war Italian constitution. A case then, perhaps, of a little corruption serving a larger societal good? As film director Paolo Sorrentino said in accepting his Oscar for The Great Beauty: "Italy--that's a crazy country, but beautiful."
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