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ECtHR to consider Italian case against anti-corruption law

Could set precedent for Silvio Berlusconi

21 January, 17:27
ECtHR to consider Italian case against anti-corruption law (ANSA) - Rome, January 21 - The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) on Tuesday agreed to consider a suit by an Italian politician who says he was unfairly punished by Italy's anti-corruption law, which bars white-collar convicts from running for office.

If the court agrees to try the case, it could set a precedent for former three-time premier Silvio Berlusconi, who was ejected from parliament on the basis of the anti-corruption law last year after the supreme court upheld a tax-fraud conviction against him, making it definitive. Berlusconi has also applied to the ECtHR.

The court agreed to consider the case of regional Socialist Party secretary Marcello Miniscalco, who was barred in 2013 from running for regional office because he was convicted of abuse of office at the end of the 1990s, while mayor of a small town in the southern Molise region.

''We argued the Italian State violated the European Human Rights Convention when it retroactively applied a penalty-carrying law,'' his lawyer said.

Italy's anti-corruption law, named after Justice Minister Paola Severino, was passed on December 31, 2012.

Berlusconi also argues that the law was applied retroactively in his case, which is against the Italian Constitution.

The anti-corruption law was adopted before the supreme court upheld the tax-fraud conviction, although the original sentence predates it.

The previous administration of Premier Mario Monti enacted the anti-corruption law after EU and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) reports that corruption in Italy cost the State 60 billion euros a year, or 3.8% of GDP (against an EU average of 1%), and that Italy was the third most corrupt OECD State, after Mexico and Greece.