Berlusconi's immunity-for-me law overturned

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's law that grants him immunity from prosecution has been overturned. Berlusconi, a media tycoon who uses his control over the press to stay in office (I've met dozens of Italian activists who uttered the improbable phrase, "Thank God for Rupert Murdoch, Berlusconi can't bully him," which should give you an idea of what sort of person he is), passed the immunity law, arguing that he couldn't govern effectively if he could be sued or criminally prosecuted for wrongdoing. Several pending lawsuits will now go forward.

The appeal to the Constitutional Court was launched by prosecutors including those from the Mills case.

They contended that immunity put Mr Berlusconi above the law and needed to be reversed.

Mr Berlusconi argued that immunity allowed him to govern without being "distracted" by the judiciary.

This is the second time Italy's highest court has thrown out Mr Berlusconi's bid for immunity, after an earlier attempt in 2004 failed.

Of the Constitutional Court's 15 members, five are selected by the president, five by the judiciary, and five by parliament.

They voted 9-6 to in favour of lifting Mr Berlusconi's immunity, the BBC's Duncan Kennedy says from Rome.

Berlusconi immunity law overruled

(Thanks, Pico!)

(Image: The Economist)