Magistrates across Italy have walked out of courts in protest against plans to speed up the country’s trial and appeal process.
In appeals court ceremonies from Sicily to Milan, to mark the start of the judicial year, magistrates left carrying copies of the constitution when government representatives began their speeches.
Luca Palamara, the President of the National Magistrates Union, which organised the protest, said it was also a demonstration against daily attacks by Silvio Berlusconi and other important government representatives.
Government officials described the protest as lacking in credibility and urged magistrates to engage in dialogue instead.
During a ceremony in L’Aquila, Justice Minister Angelino Alfano said the need for reform was urgent and that the government was determined to carry them out.
The draft bill would drastically cut the maximum duration of Italy’s trial and appeal process down to six from an average of 12 years.
But critics say, if passed, the legislation, would also mean the end of two corruption and tax fraud trials against Berlusconi.
The billionaire prime minister denies all charges and says he is the victim of magistrates who hound him.