Italy

Berlusconi stripped of automatic immunity

Reuters/Max Rossi

Italy’s Constitutional Court has partially cancelled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s immunity from criminal prosecution. The 15 members of the court on Thursday eliminated a clause in the law that grants Berlusconi automatic immunity, granting judges the power to decide on a case by case basis whether or not Berlusconi should face legal proceedings opened against him.

Advertising

The immunity law meant the prime minister and his ministers were not obliged to appear before a court on the grounds that they have to fulfil their official duties. It has suspended two trials against Berlusconi.

In October 2009, the Constitutional Court overturned another law that granted Berlusconi immunity from prosecution while in office.

But under a law approved by parliament in March 2010, criminal hearings against ministers could be postponed three times for up to six months each.

Eight of the 15 Constitutional Court judges were in favour of cancelling the law completely, while seven wanted to maintain it.

Berlusconi is the subject of two court cases. The first is for alleged tax fraud by his Mediaset business. The second is for the suspected bribery of his former tax lawyer David Mills, a witness in another trial against him.

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning