Nicholas Farrell Nicholas Farrell

Think Britain’s tabloid journalists are bad? Try Italy’s tabloid judges

There is a small light at the end of the tunnel but it comes too late, I fear, to save Italy from the abyss:  Silvio Berlusconi was yesterday acquitted on appeal of committing Bunga Bunga with Ruby the Heart-Stealer when she was sweet 17 for which he had been sentenced to seven years in prison. Che bello!

Yet if ever a reason were needed for Britain to have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with European courts of any kind, and the European Arrest Warrant in particular, we need look no further than the Berlusconi Bunga Bunga trial.

If it could happen to him, a media tycoon and four times Italian Prime Minister, it could happen to you. We are all guilty of something – if need be – as the 20-year-long judicial jihad waged by the Italian magistratura against Berlusconi demonstrates so clearly.

Let us be frank: the European Arrest Warrant gives a judicial system such as Italy’s the power to come and get you in Britain and bang you up in an Italian jail, for up to a year, on suspicion that you committed a crime while it tries to find sufficient evidence to charge you.

This is totally at odds with the British way of doing justice. In Britain, a suspect can be held in custody for a maximum of 96 hours without charge – or in the special case of a terrorist suspect 28 days.

It gets worse, of course. For how could it not when Italians are involved? Once put under investigation in a place like Italy you enter, like Josef K. in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, a life-destroying and tortuously slow judicial system where the process regularly takes 10 years to conclude. Worse still, Italian courts pay only lip service to the sacred ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ principle and invariably convict on the basis of ‘he must have done it’ and sod the evidence.

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