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Amusingly called "legitimate impediment" the law allows Berlusconi and all of his ministers to avoid court appearances for a period of 18 months without a plausible pretext.

I don't know why this angers me so much - I guess it because is the most blatant nose-thumping in the whole affair, it's saying loud and clear in view of everyone 'if I cannot be above the law I'll lower the law'.

Context:

Berlusconi will now have to undergo a trial as the corruptor. He had passed a personal law that granted him temporary immunity from prosecution while in office. The law was recently struck down as anti-constitutional, forcing Berlusconi to write a new bill, called "legitimate impediment," to block the trial. However, his legislative engineering also suspended the statute of limitations which is now set in 2012. At this pace he need only churn out self-serving laws until the bribery case will be extinguished due to the death of the defendant. [February 25, 2010]
Fran:
The revival of the charge against Mr Berlusconi for allegedly giving the bribe follows a decision by the Constitutional Court in October to overturn a law that the Italian Prime Minister pushed through Parliament last year, giving himself immunity from prosecution.
B's lawyer immediately declared that his client had a legitimate impediment and would therefore not attend the hearing. [November 27-8, 2009]
it is an old defense tactic to avoid an in absentia trial by resorting to legitimate impediment to attend a trial session. An in absentia trial would move along quickly to its conclusion since the defense has either willfully renounced to be present or is at large or the judge has declared the defendant in absentia with a motivated decision (as I recall).

Berlusconi seeks to have his trials prolonged indefinitely just as all of his cohorts (Previti, Dell'Utri, etc.) by systematically presenting overriding impediments that prevent him or his lawyers to attend the trial that day. His lawyers or himself are often either sick, wounded (broken this or that) or in parliament or whatever may be construed as a plausible excuse. Since the statute of limitations ticks on until the supreme court, anything goes.

The judge has ruled that all sessions will be held on Mondays and if there is a "legitimate" impediment, the ssession will be held on the next available day of that same week. This ruling is designed to foil the defense's game of putting the trial off indefinitely.

If in the long run trial sessions are regularly put off, the judge could have grounds to declare an in absentia trial- which would probably be appealed anyway, thus putting off the trial once again until a higher court confirms or rejects the decision.

The best thing to do would be to reform the law on the statute of limitations: simply eliminate limitations once the trial has started. There would no longer be a reason to drag trials on for years. [18 November, 2009]

(my emphasis)

En un viejo país ineficiente, algo así como España entre dos guerras civiles, poseer una casa y poca hacienda y memoria ninguna. -- Gil de Biedma
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 13th, 2010 at 05:37:50 AM EST
Thanks very much for putting those quotes together.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sat Mar 13th, 2010 at 05:50:13 AM EST
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