Italy: Court ruling on immunity law may affect PM's future

Rome, 17 Sept. (AKI) - Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi may be forced to resign if the Constitutional Court rules against an immunity law that protects him and four other senior members of the government, Italian media reports said on Thursday. The court is expected on 6 October to rule whether the law, called the Lodo Alfano, is constitutional.

The law, approved in June last year, gives the four highest offices of state - including the prime minister - immunity from criminal prosecution.

If the Lodo Alfano law is deemed unconstitutional, it could cause "damage to electoral functions that would not be able to be carried out with the due commitment, it could also cause resignations and, in any way, it would cause irreparable damage", state attorneys said.

However, Italian minister without portfolio Roberto Calderoli from the Northern League party said that the court's sentence was unlikely to produce a 'shake-up' of the Berlusconi government.

"I do not believe that this will cause any 'jolts' in the government," said Calderoli on Italian TV programme La Telefonata.

Calderoli also said that the scandal-prone Berlusconi has been subject to premeditated attacks in a bid to make people believe that his government was weak.

"Since the spring we have seen voluntary actions, created and constructed to make us believe that this is a weak and vulnerable government, but it is strong in numbers," he said.

"The only thing the government has to carry out are reforms. You will see that this is the only way for them not to think about gossip."

Until the law was introduced, Berlusconi was a defendant in the case involving British tax lawyer, David Mills, who was sentenced in February to four and a half years in jail for accepting a 600,000 dollar bribe from the prime minister for giving false evidence in corruption trials.

The 72-year old leader also proposed further legislation stating that if immunity were ever lifted, the conviction of Mills and the evidence on which it is based could not be used against him.

The premier has recently faced intense media scrutiny over scandals in his private life.

Recently, Giampaolo Tarantini, a businessman from Bari and a friend of Berlusconi has told prosecutors he supplied women - some of whom were paid for 'sexual services' - for 18 parties at Berlusconi’s residences in Rome and Sardinia between September last year and January this year.

Meanwhile, a poll released on Wednesday showed that Berlusconi's popularity has fallen to its lowest point since he was re-elected for the third time in April 2008.


print          send



Contact us