Rome

PD rejects PdL call for parliamentary suspension

'Should only need a few hours' to talk about Berlusconi case

PD rejects PdL call for parliamentary suspension

Rome, July 10 - The centre-left Democratic Party (PD) on Wednesday rejected a call from ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) Party, its coalition partner, to halt parliament for three days so the PdL can decide its reaction to the supreme court's allegedly over-hasty trial call for Berlusconi's last appeal in a fraud case. On Tuesday the Cassation Court set July 30 as the date for the hearing, spurring the PdL to claim biased magistrates were rushing to justice to try to eliminate Berlusconi from politics. The three-time premier is appealing a four-year term for inflating film-rights purchases at his media empire, cut to one for an amnesty, as well as a five-year ban from public office. As he is over 70 he would not serve the year in prison if definitively convicted but have to do social work. However the ban would kick in if, as usually happens, parliament ratifies it. There has been some speculation that the PD may not all vote to ban Berlusconi. As well as calling for a three-day halt to parliamentary business, the PdL said Wednesday it would no longer attend a government summit set to address thorny issues like the repeal of property tax IMU and the avoidance of a 1% hike in VAT. But the PD said the PdL was over-reacting. Its Senate whip, Luigi Zanda, said "it's OK if a caucus needs a few hours to talk things through, but longer than that is not. "Parliament cannot absolutely suspend its work". PD House Whip Roberto Speranza echoed Zanda in saying parliament could not be shut down. He said the PD would argue against a suspension at a whips' meeting in the early afternoon. While not blaming the PD for the Cassation Court's action, the PdL has said this alleged latest instance of judicial persecution against their leader could bring down the fragile coalition with their traditional foes. photo: Zanda

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