PositionItalian leaders charged in fraude case - Brief Article

Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi and his lieutenant Marcello Dell'Utri have been charged by the Spanish Judge Baltazar Garzon over a case of tax fraud linked to the Telecinco channel owned by Mediaset, Mr Berlusconi's flagship company. The Spanish Supreme Court called for the lifting of the two MEPs' parliamentary immunity in July 2000. President Nicole Fontaine contacted the Spanish Government at the end of August 2000, arguing that the Government rather than a judicial body is the authority responsible for submitting this type of request under Article 6 of the European Parliament's Rules of Procedure. The Spanish State Council has since been asked to consider this point. The request for the lifting of the two MEPs' immunity has meanwhile not been examined by Parliament. The PES group is highly dissatisfied at the evolution of events, accusing Spain's Prime Minister Jose-Maria Aznar of looking to protect Mr Berlusconi - currently leading the polls for the forthcoming legislative elections in Italy - by delaying the case. Mrs Fontaine is suspected of being an accomplice in these delaying tactics.--Article 6, .1 of the Parliament's Rules of Procedure states that any request submitted to the President by the relevant authority in Member State with a view to the lifting of an MEP's immunity should be notified in plenary session and transmitted to the relevant Committee.--Aware of the rising profile of the dispute, Mrs Fontaine chose to consult the leaders of the European Parliament's political groups on the various aspects of the lifting of Messrs Berlusconi and...

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