On October 7, Italy's Constitutional Court overturned a controversial immunity law that would have provided Italy's top four political office holders immunity from prosecution while they held office.
The immunity law, also called the Alfano law, was a July 2008 reform of a version that was quashed in 2004. The 15-member panel of the Constitutional Court determined that the current legislation violates the constitutional guarantee of equality before the law.
The Alfano law shielded the president, the prime minister and the presidents of the two houses of parliament from prosecution while in office.
Those who opposed the Alfano law argued that it would have spared Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi from a number of criminal trials. The new ruling immediately reopens two trials involving Berlusconi, which prompted some opposition politicians to call for the premiere's resignation or a return to the polls.
In responding to the high court's decision and the criticism that followed, Berlusconi assured the public that despite the ruling he would continue in office, even if he is sent back into courtrooms. ‘The government will carry its mission to term,' he told the press.