The Court of Appeals has over-ruled a judgement that meted out a fine of 500 euros to Piero Ricca for allegedly insulting Silvio Berlusconi back in May of 2003.
The occasion was one of Berlusconi’s rare appearances in court – rare not because Italy’s ex-Prime Minister has rarely fallen foul of the law, but because he rarely graces the law courts with his presence. Berlusconi was appearing in connection with charges over the SME-Ariosto scandal.
After Berlusconi had finished speaking, Ricca shouted out “Buffoon! Let yourself be judged like everybody else. Respect the law, the magistrates, the constitution, democracy, and the dignity of the Italians, or else you’ll end up like Ceaucescu or Don Rodrigo”. Berlusconi, at the time, was using his parliamentary majority to pass through a controversial law granting him immunity from prosecution while Prime Minister – a law that was later declared unconstitutional and thrown out.
The Court of Appeals has now ruled that Ricco’s defence, that he was making a strong criticism of a public figure is valid. To the injured party they may well have added ‘well, if you will act like one…’.