By Olivier Bault
New doubts about the functioning of democracy in Italy arise after a new judicial scandal
Last year, the Italian President Sergio Mattarella denounced the scandals surrounding the Italian Judicial Administrative Council (CSM) “the inadmissible mixing of politicians and judges” and the “degeneration of the system of currents”. He was referring to the political currents within the CSM related to the manner in which judges and prosecutors are appointed by the various currents represented in the National Association of Judges (ANM).
Mattarella then called for a profound reform of the CSM, which is responsible for ensuring and monitoring the independence and impartiality of the Italian judicial system. To date, this reform has been pending despite the very serious scandals that exposed the political activities of networks of judges and prosecutors who went through the CSM to incapacitate right-wing leaders such as Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini through legal proceedings.
But while awaiting reform, a new scandal has just broken out after evidence of a secret Masonic lodge involving Italian elites has emerged. Members of the CSM, judges, politicians and officials of the Guardia di Finanza (a militarized police force under the auspices of the Ministry of Economics and Finance) as well as members of the police allegedly belong to a lodge called “Hungaria” – not a reference to Viktor Orbán’s homeland, but to a place in Rome where the members are said to have held their meetings, in the house of an important judge. It is said that it is in this lodge that appointments and dismissals of magistrates in Italy are decided.
Secret societies are said to be banned in Italy
If these facts are true, the existence of this lodge would violate Italian law that forbids secret societies. Worse, it would raise new questions about the democratic nature of Italy’s political system, already cast into doubt by the revelations made by the wiretapping of the powerful prosecutor Luca Palamara, a former member of the CSM and former president of the National Association of Judges (ANM ), which summarizes Italian judges and prosecutors, were received as part of a corruption investigation.
An investigation has already been launched by prosecutors in four different regions, but won’t it be blocked by members of the Hungarian lodge? After all, the statements that reported the existence of this lodge come from a lawyer involved in a case related to the Italian oil company Eni, Pietro Amara, from 2018.
A Milan prosecutor, Paolo Storari, wanted to find out whether Pietro Amara is lying, which is a misdemeanor and could be prosecuted, or whether he is telling the truth, in which case the existence of this secret society should be investigated.
Faced with the inaction of the Milan Chief Prosecutor Francesco Greco, Stolari decided to break the law by disclosing the confidential file containing Amara’s allegations to Piercamillo Davigo, who was then a member of the Justice Council, but Davigo also chose not to act . After all, it was a CSM employee who anonymously and illegally forwarded Amara’s statements to two newspapers and to Antonino di Matteo, another CSM member, and so the scandal broke out at the end of April.
The EU points with its fingers at Hungary and Poland
Despite the severity of the new scandal surrounding the possible existence of a secret Masonic Lodge linked to the CSM, the European Commission has shown little interest in the case.
If the EU were to work according to the rule of law, it would only be natural that the Commission would avoid poking its nose into the organization and operation of the judicial system of a member state, as this is an exclusive national competence under the European treaties. So it is up to the Italians themselves to solve their problems in this area.
But it is actually the case that for some countries – namely Poland and Hungary – the European Commission and after it the European Court of Justice (ECJ) see themselves endowed with the power to oversee the functioning of the judicial system in these countries. The same goes for the European Parliament.
The Commission is now trying to have Poland convicted by the ECJ for the disciplinary body that it created within its Supreme Court as part of the judicial reforms adopted in 2017. The purpose of these reforms was to put an end to the almost total impunity of judges due to the corporatism prevailing in the profession, i.e. to prevent situations like the one in Italy from occurring without anyone else being able to do anything except sue . The Advocate General of the ECJ has just agreed to the European Commission that a disciplinary body whose members have been appointed by a judicial council, whose members have in turn been appointed by an elected parliament, violates so-called European principles.
In Italy the impunity of judges seems to be guaranteed, but the separation of powers only works in one direction: while politicians can do nothing against judges, the latter can do a lot against them, and strangely enough, right-wing politicians are usually targeted. In addition, this often happens with the support of crooked left politicians such as the former President Giorgio Napolitano, who as a communist probably did not care too much about democracy and who is said to have contributed to the departure of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2011 with clearly undemocratic means, among other things Help from left-wing judges and prosecutors (and also with the help of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, but this is another story). We are currently seeing history repeat itself with the criminal proceedings against Matteo Salvini for his decisions as Minister of the Interior to block the arrival of illegal immigrants on board the Gregoretti and Open Arms ships. We saw the same tactic in the past with a large number of sham trials against Silvio Berlusconi.
“For many years I have suffered and denounced the ideological infiltration and opacity of the power system that characterizes part of the judiciary, some public prosecutors and the top of the organized currents,” said Berlusconi on March 27th last year in an interview with Il Giornale and commented on the book “Il Sistema” (The System) written by Il Giornale’s publishing director , Alessandro Sallusti, on the basis of his conversations with the former public prosecutor, head of the ANM and CSM member Luca Palamara.
Italy needs the separation of powers on which a liberal society is based, stressed Berlusconi
Following the emergence of this new scandal about the existence of a secret Masonic lodge within the Italian judiciary, former Prime Minister and former leader of the Center-Left Democratic Party, Matteo Renzi, said: “For two years they made us believe that the problem was with one person Judge, Luca Palamara, lies. Every day that goes by, we discover something new. Finding a convenient scapegoat is not the solution, ever. Indeed, the problems that are hidden under the carpet keep coming to light. “
He added with sarcasm: “I’m sure that Judge Davigo – of us for years in all TV shows, in which it participates, and in the columns of Il Fatto quotI-Diano given moral lessons – can explain this strange affair. (…). But it is now evident that the CSM is in trouble. And when one institution suffers, it is a problem for everyone. A big problem for everyone. “
Not for the people in Brussels, however, because the separation of powers as they imagine it only works in one direction, namely in favor of independent and irremovable judges. Of course, this has nothing to do with democracy. Polish or Hungarian parliamentary democracy is in their eyes too “populist” anyway.
Source: Remix News/UME