Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Air Algerie investigation continues

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Dozens of youths trampled to death on Conakry beach

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola death toll tops 700

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

UNRWA official breaks down over Gaza deaths

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds' (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Argentina Defaults - Kirchner Cries Foul Over 'Vulture Funds'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Renault's women drivers ad deemed sexist

Read more

FOCUS

Constitution prohibits Aung San Suu Kyi to run for president

Read more

THE BUSINESS INTERVIEW

War and Markets, with Steen Jakobsen, Chief Economist at Saxo Bank

Read more

  • Kerry, Ban announce 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

    Read more

  • Interactive: France’s new plan to counter jihadism in Africa

    Read more

  • French Jews speak of growing fear in Paris amid Gaza conflict

    Read more

  • Argentinian markets plummet following default

    Read more

  • Video: Inside Hamas ‘terror’ tunnels in Gaza

    Read more

  • France remembers murdered socialist hero Jean Jaurès

    Read more

  • Sierra Leone declares state of emergency over spread of Ebola

    Read more

  • Investigators reach MH17 site amid 24-hour ceasefire

    Read more

  • Air France ground workers to strike on August 2

    Read more

  • Scores feared dead in India landslide

    Read more

  • Russia ordered to pay further €1.9 billion to Yukos shareholders

    Read more

  • Iraq's Christians: Nowhere to Run?

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US House votes to sue Obama for over-reaching his powers

    Read more

Berlusconi trial freeze unconstitutional, say magistrates

Latest update : 2008-06-23

The Italian Higher Council of Magistracy will debate Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's attempt to put thousands of trials on ice -including his own- and should declare the measure unconstitutional.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's attempt to put thousands of trials on ice -- including one involving himself -- is likely unconstitutional, according to legal advice prepared for the governing body for Italy's judges, a report said Saturday.
   
The Higher Council of the Magistracy (CSM) is to discuss that view on Monday, the domestic ANSA news agency reported, adding to tension between Italy's judiciary and the conservative media tycoon turned politician.
   
In a legal amendment that was passed by the Senate on Wednesday, court cases involving serious offences punishable by more than 10 years in prison would get priority handling in the Italian judicial system.
   
Other cases would be suspended for a year -- including one in Milan in which Berlusconi is accused of having given 600,000 dollars (380,000 euros) to his British lawyer David Mills in exchange for false testimony in two cases dating back to the 1990s.
   
Judge Nicoletta Gandus -- who has drawn flak from Berlusconi for "publicly taking positions violently opposed" to his previous 2001-2006 government -- ruled Friday that proceedings in the case would not be halted.
   
In the opinion of two rapporteurs for the CSM, suspending trials would be "potentially incompatible" with the constitution on two points -- the right to a reasonable duration of trial and the principle of equality among citizens.
   
They also questioned the manner in which the amendment was put forward, tacked onto broader legislation dealing with security issues, ANSA reported.
   
Those in Europe who have criticised the traditional slow pace of Italian justice "will not understand such a measure which would, in effect, prolong cases for even longer," the legal opinion said.
   
On Wednesday, the union representing Italy's magistrates estimated that 100,000 court cases would be postponed if the amendment -- dubbed "save the prime minister" by Italy's political oppositon -- goes ahead.
   
"This is going to bring criminal justice to its knees. It will be unprecedented chaos," said Giuseppe Cascini, general secretary of the ANM union.
   
The amendment still must go through Italy's lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies, before it can come into effect -- but Berlusconi's government enjoys an overall majority there.
   
Once adopted, Berlusconi intends to put forward legislation giving judicial immunity to the five most senior figures in the Italian state -- effectively enabling him to avoid conviction during his five-year mandate.

Date created : 2008-06-23

COMMENT(S)