Italy's Constitutional Court threw out a law that shielded Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from prosecution while in office, paving the way for corruption proceedings to resume against him.
In a major blow for 73-year-old Berlusconi, Italy's top court ruled that a law granting him immunity from prosecution while he is in office violates the constitution. The verdict will reopen two trials against him that were suspended.
A defiant Berlusconi slammed the court as primarily "left-wing" and vowed to see out his five-year mandate won in April 2008, saying he had the support of 70 percent of the Italian people.
Berlusconi, who has already been weakened by sex scandals.
The immunity law, one of Berlusconi's first acts after winning last year's election, halted all the cases against him, including one where he is accused of bribing British lawyer David Mills to give false testimony to protect his businesses.
Two other cases, one accusing him of tax fraud and false accounting in the purchase of TV rights by Mediaset and another alleging he tried to corrupt opposition senators, have also been frozen. Berlusconi denies any wrongdoing.
The immunity also covered the president and two speakers of parliament but it was Berlusconi, who has faced corruption and fraud accusations linked to his Mediaset broadcasting empire, who had most at stake from losing it.
Last Mod: 08 Ekim 2009, 17:16