Does the immunity from prosecution that Silvio Berlusconi enjoys violate Italy’s constitution?
That is the question the country’s top court is deliberating in a politically-sensitive hearing that could put the prime minister back in the dock. As premier, Berlusconi is protected under a law passed soon after his return to power last year. Defending the legislation, the conservative media mogul’s lawyer Gaetano Pecorella said he expected the court would find it constitutional and would examine the case from a judicial and not a political point of view. But for Berlusconi’s critics, the law was tailor-made to put a stop to legal proceedings against him. Expressing confidence in the court, centre-left opposition member of parliament Rosy Bindi said the government would do well to remember that in a democratic country all citizens are equal before the law. Prosecutors in frozen legal proceedings against Berlusconi asked the Constitutional Court to re-examine the immunity law. Facing accusations including bribery, tax fraud and false accounting, he has denied any wrongdoing.