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Italy coalition members oppose pardons for white-collar criminals

[JURIST] Some leftist Italian lawmakers belonging to the Union Coalition [Wikipedia backgrounder] of Italian prime minister Romano Prodi [official profile] have expressed dissatisfaction with a controversial sentence-reduction bill that has been extended to include prisoners convicted of fraud and other white-collar crimes. The measure that would effectively pardon 12,000 prisoners three years before the end of their sentences passed the Chamber of Deputies [official website], the lower house of the Italian parliament, on Friday, excluding only those who were convicted of the most serious crimes, such as rape, pedophilia, and terrorism. It was extended to include white-collar offenders to earn the support of opposition lawmakers, given the narrow margin of legislative support the Prodi government enjoys. The Italian Senate [official website] is expected to pass the expanded bill on Saturday.

The discontented coalition members argue that white-collar offenders should remain in jail, considering Italy's recent history of corruption allegations. Prodi barely won disputed April elections [JURIST report], when he ran against former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] who is scheduled to stand trial [JURIST report] in November on embezzlement, false accounting, tax fraud and money laundering charges. Berlusconi was previously acquitted of false accounting and bribery charges [JURIST reports], but is also under investigation for antitrust and bribery allegations [JURIST reports]. Reuters has more.

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