Page last updated at 20:14 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 21:14 UK

Italian MPs approve immunity law

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. File photo
Mr Berlusconi says he is the target of a politically motivated judiciary

Italy's parliament has given its final approval to a controversial immunity bill put forward by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's government.

The bill was passed by 171 votes to 128 by the Senate. The lower house backed the measure earlier last month.

The bill protects top public officials, including the prime minister, from prosecution while they are in office.

Critics say it is tailor-made for Mr Berlusconi, who faces a corruption trial. The PM says he is innocent.

The 71-year-old media tycoon has been charged numerous times for corruption, tax fraud and illegal party funding.

Mr Berlusconi - who has never been convicted - has criticised the court cases, saying they are a result of a witch-hunt against him by the judiciary.

'Endless' court hearings

The bill grants immunity to the incumbents of Italy's four highest state posts - the president, the prime minister and the speakers of both houses of parliament.

It must be signed by President Giorgio Napolitano before officially going into effect.

The bill's supporters have argued that the amendment is needed to allow the top state officials to focus on doing their jobs - without legal destraction.

Mr Berlusconi currently faces a corruption case in Milan.

The Italian prime minister also faces prosecution in Rome for alleged collusion between his Mediaset network and state broadcaster, Rai.

Mr Berlusconi claims that he has attended 2,500 court hearings, had 587 police visits and spent some 174m euros (135m; $271m) in legal fees since entering the political scene 14 years ago.

Brussels to study Alitalia loan
11 Jun 08 |  Business
Berlusconi is sworn into office
08 May 08 |  Europe
Profile: Silvio Berlusconi
15 Apr 08 |  Europe

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific