Justice minister says Berlusconi ban law deserves 'thought'

Cancellieri welcomes 'non-partisan and competent' views

Justice minister says Berlusconi ban law deserves 'thought'

Rome, September 3 - Justice Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri said Tuesday that she was open to discussion of the constitutionality of a law threatening ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi with a ban from office. That law is at the centre of a political crisis involving not only Berlusconi's Senate seat but also the prospects of survival for the shaky left-right coalition government. "Many highly competent people and non-partisan (people) have voiced doubts," on the law, Cancellieri said in an interview with Sky TG 24 television. Since these jurists' opinion carried more weight than hers, discussion of the law was "at least" warranted, Cancellieri said, while stressing that she herself did not think it breached the Constitution. Next week the Senate will start weighing whether Berlusconi should be stripped of his seat as required under the law framed by former justice minister Paola Severino following his conviction on tax fraud. Berlusconi's People of Freedom (PdL) party says it will pull the plug on its unprecedented alliance with the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) if the PD members of a Senate immunity panel vote, as they have said they will, to strip the three-time premier of his seat. Berlusconi's ejection can only be authorised by a floor vote, expected in late October, but a panel vote against him would make that moot if the PdL follows through on its threat to scupper the coalition.

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