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EU court upholds Italian leniency on false accounting

[JURIST] Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile] emerged victorious Tuesday after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] ruled [ECJ press release, PDF] that EU law could not overrule an Italian law partially decriminalizing false accounting crimes. The court further held that penalties under Italian law could not be increased under EU directivea. False accounting penalties were relaxed by legislation in 2001 which forced an end to a corporate corruption trial involving the newly-elected Italian leader. The court's statement made clear over objections of prosecutors that an individual government has the right to decide on criminal penalties so long as they lived up to the EU's requirement of being "effective, proportionate and dissuasive...." Berlusconi has been tried in several corruption cases but has always denied wrongdoing, blaming charges on politically motivated magistrates. Reuters has more.

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