Silvio Berlusconi has won his battle to avoid prosecution during his time in office.
Italy’s Senate has passed into law a bill that effectively grants the prime minister immunity along with the holders of the country’s three other most powerful posts – the president and the speakers of the two parliamentary chambers.
To critics who have called into question the speed with which this law has been presented, Italy’s Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said:
“This law is not premature, nor too late. It is right.”
It was approved by 171 votes to 128 against, with six abstentions.
The immunity law had been vigorously opposed both by magistrates and much of the left-wing opposition.
Anna Finocchiaro, a spokesperson for the opposition Democratic Party said:
“Berlusconi always wants more. He does not want the legal system to have any jurisdiction over crimes he is alleged to have committed before he was prime minister.”
Berlusconi had been facing trial on a charge of having paid his British lawyer David Mills nearly half a million euros to give favourable testimony in two trials.