[JURIST] Italy's Constitutional Court [official website, in Italian] was asked Saturday to rule on a new law granting top Italian lawmakers immunity from prosecution [JURIST report] while in office as a judge in Milan formally suspended a long-running corruption case against Italian Prime Minister and media magnate Silvio Berlusconi [JURIST news archive]. For the last 18 months Berlusconi and lawyer David Mills have been on trial in connection with an alleged agreement by Mills to testify on Berlusconi's behalf in another proceeding in return for $600,000. In June the judge presiding over the trial said that hearings in the case would continue [JURIST report] despite a request for her removal by Berlusconi's lawyers. The final passage of the immunity bill in July at the behest of the new Berlusconi government forced suspension of the trial, although the case against Berlusconi could resume if the high court rules against the law. The proceeding against Mills will continue. AFP has more. Corriere della Serra has local coverage [in Italian].
Italy has recently faced significant criticism by both advocacy groups and members of the country's judiciary [JURIST reports] for relaxing its anti-corruption measures. The majority of the criticism has been targeted at Berlusconi, who has faced trial on at least six occasions involving charges of false accounting, tax fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, and giving false testimony [JURIST reports]. In October 2007, Italy's highest court of appeals upheld Berlusconi's April 2007 acquittal [JURIST reports] on bribery charges. That trial was initially blocked in 2004 by a bill drafted by Berlusconi ally and later defense lawyer Gaetano Pecorella but went ahead after the bill was struck down as unconstitutional.