Italy is in the grip of growing uncertainty about the fate of Silvio Berlusconi after the country’s top court ruled he no longer had immunity from prosecution.
The Prime Minister has vowed to stay on in office despite the Constitutional Court’s ruling that could lead to the reopening of corruption trials against him. The Court said its decision was based on the principle that all Italians must be equal before the law. Its verdict overturns a law which was approved shortly after Berlusconi came to power last year and which had halted all the cases against him. He was facing charges of bribery, tax fraud and false accounting. In a defiant response he accused the courts, most of the media and even the president of being biased to the left. He lamented the fact that he would have to waste time fighting what he said were false allegations. The ruling has heightened political tension in the country with some calling for early elections. As ever, Italians are deeply divided on their prime minister. One man in Rome said: “It’s a fair verdict because our leaders are citizens like everyone else and should be tried like ordinary people.” Another said: “This verdict must be respected, it must be taken into account, but it won’t create problems for our governability at all. On the contrary, it should motivate us to put the reforms we need into place.” Analysts say it is a further set back for Berlusconi, who has already been undermined by sex scandals.