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Italy cabinet minister resigns after bid to invoke immunity law

Newly appointed Italian cabinet minister Aldo Brancher [official profile, in Italian] resigned [press release, in Italian] Monday amidst controversy over an embezzlement indictment. Brancher, appointed on June 18 after being nominated by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, unsuccessfully attempted to use his status [Libero report] as a government official to delay proceedings against him in a banking case [Dow Jones report] under a controversial new immunity law [JURIST report]. Berlusconi praised Brancher and characterized his resignation as a selfless act. As the Minister for the Application of the Federalist Reform, Brancher was to oversee the creation of government autonomy throughout Italy. Brancher formerly served as an executive for Mediaset, Berlusconi's media group, and is a member of the People of Freedom [political website] political party.

In April, Italian judges questioned [JURIST report] the law which Brancher unsuccessfully tried to use after Berlusconi availed himself of the law's protection to delay criminal fraud proceedings. The law may yet face constitutional scrutiny. In January, hundreds of judges walked out of their courtrooms to protest another law that was criticized for being tailored to Berlusconi's benefit which placed strict time limits [JURIST reports] on the trial and appeals process.

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