The parliamentary leaders of Silvio Berlusconi’s party have demanded the suspension of parliament in protest at a decision by the supreme court aimed at preventing him from evading a four-year jail sentence on a technicality.
The heads of the media tycoon’s Freedom People (PdL) movement in both chambers said they wanted the legislature to cease all activity for three days. The centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which is joined to the PdL in Italy’s left-right coalition, immediately rejected the demand, opening a rift within Enrico Letta’s already fragile government.
In a further threat to its survival, Berlusconi’s representatives announced they were boycotting a meeting on Wednesday of the three parties that make up the coalition.
The media tycoon has already been convicted in two lower courts of a €7.5m (£6.5m) tax fraud orchestrated by his Mediaset TV company. The judges added to the prison sentence, which Berlusconi is unlikely to have to serve, a ban on his holding office for five years, which would be an even harsher blow.
If his case had followed its normal course through the supreme court, his final appeal would have been heard in about six months’ time. But – as the result of a law passed by Berlusconi’s government in 2005 – one of the counts on which he was charged would have been “timed out” in the meantime by a statute of limitations.
via The Guardian