Italy's Berlusconi avoids parliamentary embarrassment

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 22, 2011 6:29 AM

ROME (Reuters) - Italian parliamentarians voted on Thursday against allowing the arrest of a former aide of Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti on corruption charges, sparing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi a potentially embarrassing defeat in the Lower House.

Naples magistrates had sought to lift the parliamentary immunity of Marco Milanese, until recently one of Tremonti's closest aides, who has been accused of corruption and peddling influence.

A vote to allow his immunity to be lifted would not have had any direct effect on the government but it would have been a severe embarrassment and increased uncertainty already surrounding the fractious center-right coalition.

Tremonti is not implicated in the allegations against Milanese but he has been badly damaged by the case and has admitted "mistakes" in paying 1,000 euros ($1,370) a week in cash to rent a flat from his former aide. ($1 = 0.730 Euros)

(Reporting by James Mackenzie)