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Lawyers set to strike over Italian legal reforms

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Lawyers set to strike over Italian legal reforms
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A contentious bill set to radically alter Italy’s legal system has won parliamentary approval. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pushed the bill through the lower house by resorting to a confidence vote, precluding any further discussion.

Lawyers have threatened to go on strike in protest. Justice Minister Roberto Castelli said that Italians will benefit from a judiciary that will be more impartial because of a separation of functions. “It will be younger and more dynamic,” he added, “so justice will work better.” The reforms will force magistrates to choose early on in their careers whether they want to be judges or prosecutors. Berlusconi has admitted the bill is not ideal but said it is a first step towards reforming the country’s notoriously slow legal system. But Oliviero Diliberto of the Communist party said it was actually just a first step towards solving Berlusconi’s own legal problems. Carlo Pucci of the National Association of Magistrates said the law turns a page in that Italy will no longer have a justice system administered by independent magistrates. This will mean a law which will not apply equally in the same manner to all citizens, he added. Critics say it will not speed up Italian justice. They accuse Berlusconi of trying to punish judges and prosecutors for alleged left-wing political bias.