Italian Prime Minister passes law to save self

The latest law that appears designed to save Italian media mogul and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi from criminal charges was passed by the country’s Senate on Wednesday.

The measure allows the prime minister and cabinet ministers to postpone for six months trials in which they stand accused.

A government spokesman said the purpose of the law was to allow politicians to perform their duties.

Opposition MPs said the Legitimate Impediment law was created specifically to shield Berlusconi from two pressing trials involving corruption and tax fraud accusations at his Mediaset TV group.

The six-month delay would likely push one or both cases beyond the statute of limitations.

Berlusconi and other Mediaset executives are accused of involvement in a scam in which the company allegedly exaggerated the cost of purchasing Hollywood film rights from the late 1980s onward.

Milan prosecuting magistrates say intermediary companies were used to siphon off excess cash to overseas slush funds, to avoid tax and to fund kickbacks. Berlusconi denies wrongdoing.

During Wednesday’s vote, MPs from the anti-corruption Italy of Values Party sat in the Senate wearing shirts emblazoned with slogans such as “Try Berlusconi” and “Enough of this wretched law.”

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