• The criminal proceedings against Berlusconi are only the most visible example of a trend going on in Italy at least since the early 1990s, when the so-called Clean Hands investigations had the effect of dismantling the traditional governing parties; • Although several signs show Italy as more corrupted than other consolidated European democracies, criminal investigations are supported by an institutional setting entrusting independent prosecutors with wide powers in criminal proceedings and allowing them a remarkable influence on judges; • In fact, today Italian public prosecutors enjoy wide investigative powers, are completely independent from the political branches and form a unified corps together with judges. • The high rate of criminal prosecutions involving politicians has fuelled a state of permanent conflict between courts and politics and has enmeshed courts in never ending political controversies, with the effect of putting in question their impartiality, a fact obviously encouraged by Berlusconi and his supporters; • The present trend in Europe toward strengthening judicial and prosecutorial independence can activate similar developments, especially in weak or consolidating democracies in which the boundaries between justice and politics are from being settled. • In any case, the growing prominence of public prosecution asks for effective forms of accountability. Since political checks are often criticized, the effectiveness of judicial controls should be strengthened: above all, judges must be – and appear to be –impartial also toward prosecution.

Berlusconi on Trial: Some Lessons for Judicial Accountability

GUARNIERI CALBO CROTTA, CARLO ANTONIO
2011

Abstract

• The criminal proceedings against Berlusconi are only the most visible example of a trend going on in Italy at least since the early 1990s, when the so-called Clean Hands investigations had the effect of dismantling the traditional governing parties; • Although several signs show Italy as more corrupted than other consolidated European democracies, criminal investigations are supported by an institutional setting entrusting independent prosecutors with wide powers in criminal proceedings and allowing them a remarkable influence on judges; • In fact, today Italian public prosecutors enjoy wide investigative powers, are completely independent from the political branches and form a unified corps together with judges. • The high rate of criminal prosecutions involving politicians has fuelled a state of permanent conflict between courts and politics and has enmeshed courts in never ending political controversies, with the effect of putting in question their impartiality, a fact obviously encouraged by Berlusconi and his supporters; • The present trend in Europe toward strengthening judicial and prosecutorial independence can activate similar developments, especially in weak or consolidating democracies in which the boundaries between justice and politics are from being settled. • In any case, the growing prominence of public prosecution asks for effective forms of accountability. Since political checks are often criticized, the effectiveness of judicial controls should be strengthened: above all, judges must be – and appear to be –impartial also toward prosecution.
12
C. Guarnieri
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/108087
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