Italian Senate Passes Bill to Shorten Trials... ...and, conveniently, end corruption cases against Berlusconi By Kevin Spak, Newser Staff Posted Jan 20, 2010 3:46 PM CST 2 comments Comments Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi arrives at his private residence for a meeting with his allies on possible tax and justice reforms, in Rome, Monday, Jan. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini) (Newser) – Italy’s Senate today gave the green light to a bill that critics say is designed to quash the pending criminal cases against Silvio Berlusconi. The prime minister’s ample Senate majority passed the so-called “short trial” bill 163 to 130. The bill aims to speed up Italy’s ponderous justice system by putting a 6-1/2 to 10-year time limit on the legal process, depending on the severity of the crime. Any defendant who has to wait longer than that for his final appeal is automatically acquitted. Since the law applies retroactively, that would include Berlusconi, who has long faced corruption and tax evasion charges. Berlusconi says the time limits should be even shorter, likening the Italian justice system to Dante’s Inferno. From here, the bill goes to the legislature’s lower house, where, according to Reuters, it will almost certainly pass.