Will Berlusconi lose his “Get out of Jail Free” card?

Italy’s highest court may be able to strip Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Teflon coating. In July 2008, Italian lawmakers “freed” Berlusconi with an immunity law that freezes criminal cases against the prime minister, president and heads of both chambers of parliament while they are in office. (See last week’s edition of The List for more.) ...

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Italy's highest court may be able to strip Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's Teflon coating.

In July 2008, Italian lawmakers "freed" Berlusconi with an immunity law that freezes criminal cases against the prime minister, president and heads of both chambers of parliament while they are in office. (See last week's edition of The List for more.) Now prosecutors are saying this law is unconstitutional, as it goes against the provision that all citizens are equal before the law.

Italy’s highest court may be able to strip Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s Teflon coating.

In July 2008, Italian lawmakers “freed” Berlusconi with an immunity law that freezes criminal cases against the prime minister, president and heads of both chambers of parliament while they are in office. (See last week’s edition of The List for more.) Now prosecutors are saying this law is unconstitutional, as it goes against the provision that all citizens are equal before the law.

The Constitutional Court could rule by the end of the week; however the Italian media says the decision could be delayed because the 15-judge court is unable to reach a consensus.

Berlusconi would most likely have three cases re-opened against him. The most devastating of these cases accuses Berlusconi of paying British lawyer David Mills $600,000 in 1997 to give false testimony in Berlusconi’s corruption trials. Mills was sentenced to 4 1/2 years for taking the bribe in February, however he will likely never see jail because of Italy’s appeals system.

Other cases that will likely be re-opened include a tax fraud and false accounting case and a case in which he allegedly tried to corrupt senators.

If his immunity gets taken away, Berlusconi’s government will likely survive the fallout, however it will only add to growing dissatisfaction with him after a string of sex scandals.

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images 

Bobby Pierce is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.

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