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Europe

Berlusconi shrugs off impending court decision on immunity law

Italy's scandal-prone Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said his government will not be affected by the Constitutional Court's ruling on a law shielding him from prosecution in court, expected Thursday.

Berlusconi sips coffee in parliament

Berlusconi said the court ruling would have no affect on him

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he is unconcerned over Thursday's expected ruling by the Constitutional Court on whether to overturn an immunity law and allow trials against him to continue.

Speaking after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Wednesday, Berlusconi said he was "totally indifferent" and that there was "no danger as far as the government is concerned, whatever the decision" of the court.

Two trials against Berlusconi, one for tax fraud by his Mediaset business empire and another for suspected bribery, were suspended last year when the government adopted a temporary law preventing him from being prosecuted while he was in power.

"I find the case laughable," he told reporters in Berlin. "As I have promised, I will explain to the Italian people on television what this is all about."

Italy's constitutional court

Reports suggest the court may deliver a split decision - or a compromise

Compromise possible

Reports suggest Italy's 15-seat Constitutional Court is closely split on the issue, with seven judges supporting the law and eight judges favoring its repeal.

Because of the court's division, a likely result would be a compromise - such as excusing Berlusconi from the trials only while he is involved in high-level meetings, or allowing judges to decide on a case-by-case basis.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of a referendum on the immunity law, a case put forward by the small centrist opposition Italy of Values party. If the court repeals the immunity law, the referendum would be redundant and the trials could resume immediately.

Author: Andrew Bowen (AP, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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