MILAN — A proposed law that would leave Italy’s four most senior officials, including premier and Mediaset owner Silvio Berlusconi, immune from prosecution came a step closer late Thursday.
The country’s Chamber of Deputies approved the law after a day-long debate. It must now pass through the Italy’s upper-house, the Senate, where Berlusconi enjoys a comfortable majority.
Berlusconi is currently on trial in Milan charged with bribing British lawyer David Mills to lie under oath.
Critics claim the controversial media tycoon-turned politician has already tried to derail the trial by seeking another law change that would prioritize more serious crime trials at the expense of less serious cases — including his own corruption trial.
But following an intervention Friday by the Chamber of Deputies justice committee, Berlusconi’s trial no longer would be automatically suspended by that law. Instead judges will decide on a case by case basis.
Possibly foreseeing this development, the premier has already sought but failed to have a judge in the trial removed.
The immunity bill voted on Thursday is a revised version of a 2003 law passed by a previous Berlusconi government, which was later declared unconstitutional.