Tags: law | Italy | Berlusconi | trials

New Italian Law Halts Berlusconi Trials

Thursday, 08 April 2010 10:57 PM

A new law signed by President Napolitano will have the effect of shelving two trials in which Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, is accused of corruption.

The “legitimate impediment” law provides for the postponement for the next 18 months of any trials involving Mr Berlusconi or other government ministers on the grounds that their official engagements prevent them from appearing in court.

However, Italian opposition leaders today vowed to campaign for a referendum to overturn the measure.

Mr Berlusconi said the law meant that he could govern for the remaining three years of his mandate “serenely”. He maintains that the charges against him are politically motivated and brought by “Communist” magistrates.

However the Democratic Party, the main centre Left party, said that “once again Berlusconi is putting his own interests ahead of those of the country”. Ignazio Marino, a Democratic Party senator, said the move was “unconstitutional and authoritarian” .

Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the centre Left, Italy of Values party, said it was unacceptable in a Western democracy for anyone to be considered “above the law”, and his party would gather signatures for a referendum to reverse the measure.

“How can it be that certain people are exempt from trial, unlike other citizens, when accused of a crime?" he said.

A spokesman for Mr Berlusconi's ruling People of Liberty (PdL) party said Mr Di Pietro, a former anti corruption magistrate, was a“desperate and aggressive” politician who was “obsessively anti Berlusconi”.

Mr Berlusconi's spokesman said "The Prime Minister is far too busy with official tasks to be able to attend 23 hearings a month and read a million pages of documents.”

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Thursday, 08 April 2010 10:57 PM
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