The perennial battle between politicians and law enforcers in Italy trudges on. The new Italian judicial year started on the last day of January with the President of Italy’s Supreme Court remarking that the wheels of justice were turning so slowly here as to be almost imperceptible.
Meanwhile Italy’s Justice Minister, speaking at the judicial year opening ceremony, twittered on about forthcoming reforms to wire-tapping legislation. What he seemed to be indicating was that the wire-tap reforms were only really necessary to prevent embarrassing tales landing the lap of Italy’s scandal hungry press.
Not exactly the best justification for such a reform, but then this is to be expected during the reign of a ‘scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours’ government, run by that man of many friends, one Silvio Berlusconi.
One thing this is sure though, Italy’s legal system badly needs medication.
The Judgement of Italy’s Supreme Court President
As the the President of Italy’s Supreme Court pointed out during his speech, in terms of efficiency of the country’s legal system ranks at a lowly 156 out of a total 181 countries. Pretty embarrassing in itself. The Supreme Court President went on to say that ‘We cannot go on like this’. Wise words, but in a country dominated by incestuous relationships, such words will probably go unheeded, or rather, will be noted by certain people who will proceed to rub their hot little hands gleeful in the knowledge that they can continue their dodgy dealings without fearing ‘hindrance” from pesky organisations such as the courts.
Preventing Wire Taps – a Mixed Blessing
It could be argued that the proposal to limit wire taps to crimes for which the sentence is longer than 10 years may cut down the number of cases being heard in front of Italy’s clogged court system. However the impression is that the move will simply ensure that the back scratchers can continue to do their thing.
One might also observe that at the start of investigations it may not be so easy to know whether or not any resulting prosecutions will be for crimes that warrant 10 year plus sentences. This may have an adverse effect on the velocity of Italy’s already snail’s pace slow legal system.
In the middle of all this, the crime rate is on the up in Italy’s true capital – Milan.
Crime in Milan Increasing
Milan has a reputation for being the least Italian of Italian cities in terms of efficiency, in that by Italian standards in general, the city is pretty well run. However its judicial authorities are strapped for cash. Employees are leaving, and government funding is apparently only a third of what it was 10 years ago. Italy’s politicians hold the purse strings, and in order to keep friends from ending up in court they’ve resorted to strangling the legal system. Time barring does the rest.
Meanwhile incidences of crime in Milan’s number one city have been on the increase. The number of murders in Milan just about doubled in the period July 2007 to end of June 2008, from 49 to 93. In the same period incidences of robbery (robbery – stealing from houses and other buildings) went up by 10,000. Cases involving extortion and fraud also increased. That old Italian chestnut corruption is rearing its ugly head once more, with case levels starting to approach ‘mani pulite‘ – ‘clean hands’ levels. And talking of Italian chestnuts, let’s not forget the good old mafia. The tentacles of Italy’s ‘ndrangehta mafia are increasingly worming their way into tenders for large scale building projects. Read preparations for Milan’s 2015 Expo.
Incidentally, the number of wire taps used by law enforcement authorities fell considerably from 3,447 to 6,355. Perhaps a result of legal eagles anticipating the wings of this effective investigative tool being well and truly clipped.
Italy’s government seems to wish to promote dodgy schemes in Italy. It must realise that the wire tap system had a certain deterrent effect, in that the blackening of names which resulted from chunks of wire tap scripts falling into the hands of the Italy’s TV and printed press led to considerable embarrassment for those concerned, and, quite possibly, caused some to think twice before instigating some scheme or other.
The trouble is that those who ended up embarrassed were either politicians or their close friends. This, of course, in cronyism and nepotism riddled Italy could not be allowed to continue.
The Leaden Consequences for Italy
Anyone out there remember Italy’s ‘anni di piombo‘ – ‘years of lead’? Well, this period, which ran from the late ’60s to the beginning of the 80s was a tough time for Italy. Indeed, Italy was just about the only country in Europe with an true internal terrorism problem. There were problems in Spain and Northern Ireland, but the root of the Basque and IRA led terrorism was separatism, whereas in Italy, the cause of the disruption was basically, and from what I’ve gathered, discontentment with Italy’s dishonest ruling classes. By ruling classes, I refer to Italy’s strange politicians working in league with other power mongers in Italy, namely big business, family dynasties, and right in the middle of it all, the mafia.
Well, Berlusconi’s government’s idea of ‘reforms’, has led to a resurgence in references to Italy’s dark ‘anni di piombo’ period. Berlusconi rose to power through this dark period, and has been accused of being one of those intrinsically involved in the root causes of discontentment with Italy’s ruling classes.
As I’ve mentioned before, Berlusconi is the archetypal Italian, and as such is one who understands exactly how to work the Italian system to his benefit, and to the advantage of those around him.
Whether the outcome of the current manoeuvres by Italy’s current government will spark a return to a new ‘anni di piombo’ period is anybody’s guess. However the ongoing presence of troops on Italy’s streets would appear to insinuate that some believe large scale disorder will bloody Italy’s piazzas sooner or later.
Yes, it’s a typical case of Situation Normal All Messed Up in good old Italy. Cue: Anni di Piombo – The Sequel
Sources: EPolis Milan and Corriere Della Sera
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