[JURIST] Italys highest administrative court, the State Council [official website, in Italian], announced Saturday that it would not restore a candidate list from the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. The candidate list for the region of Lazio was submitted late [Reuters report] and contained People of Freedom party candidates for regional elections scheduled to be held at the end of this month. Lazio is the central province of Italy and includes Rome. The State Councils decision flies in the face of an emergency government measure [BBC report] instituted earlier this month to ensure that the list would be validated.
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].