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Italy's Top Court Strips Prime Minister of Immunity


Italy's Top Court Strips Prime Minister of Immunity

Italy's Top Court Strips Prime Minister of Immunity

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Italy's Constitutional Court has overturned a law shielding Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from prosecution while in office.

The 15-member panel ruled Wednesday that the law, which grants immunity from prosecution to the president, prime minister and the speakers of both chambers of parliament while they are in office, was unconstitutional.

The immunity measure was enacted last year just after Mr. Berlusconi, a billionaire media owner, took office for his third term as prime minister.

The court's decision to rescind the law paves the way for two corruption trials against him to resume. In one case, he is accused of paying a British lawyer to give false testimony during two trials in the 1990s.

Wednesday's court ruling cannot be appealed.

A spokesman for the Italian prime minister said the verdict was politically motivated and that Mr. Berlusconi will not resign.

Mr. Berlusconi has previously been charged with corruption, tax fraud, false accounting and illegally financing political parties. He has never been convicted.

The 73-year-old prime minister has also been embroiled in a series of sex scandals. He has sued newspapers in Italy, Spain and France for their coverage of his private life.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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