Earlier this month, the Italian Senate [official website, in Italian] approved [JURIST report] a bill [materials, in Italian] allowing cabinet ministers, including Berlusconi to postpone criminal proceedings against them on the grounds that they would interfere with official duties. Critics contend that the legislation is specifically designed to protect Berlusconi from the prosecutions he faces. In January, hundreds of Italy's judges walked out of their courtrooms to protest the passage of legislation that placed strict time limits [JURIST reports] on the trial and appeals process. That bill was also criticized as being tailored for Berlusconi's benefit and would result in the automatic dismissal of two pending cases against him. Berlusconi was previously acquitted of false accounting and bribery, and has had other charges against him dropped [JURIST reports].
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