Italy was cast back into political turmoil tonight when the country's constitutional court threw out a law passed by Silvio Berlusconi's government that gave him immunity from prosecution for as long as he remained prime minister. . . . The majority decision represented a severe blow for Berlusconi, who was already struggling to contain the damage from a lurid sex and drugs scandal in which he is accused of using the services of prostitutes.
The court held the immunity law to be unconstitutional under both Articles 3 and 138 of the Italian Constitution. Article 3 states in relevant part that "[a]ll citizens have equal social status and are equal before the law, without regard to their sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, and personal or social conditions"; Article 138 deals principally with procedures for constitutional amendment. Despite the court's latter brief statement on the basis of its holding, "[t]he detailed reasoning behind the judges' decision will not be released for several weeks."
Berlusconi did not have very positive words for the court, noting that "[t]his system, and above all the way in which the members of the court are chosen, risks upsetting over time the correct balance between the powers of the state." His frustration is less than surprising, however, as it has consistently been his contention that he is the political target of "left-wing" judges.
This case sort of reminds me of another famous (albeit, quite older) case dealing with the political friction between the executive and judiciary.
UPDATE: Berlusconi to defend himself on TV, in courtrooms. AP.