November 8, 2018 / 11:35 AM / 7 months ago

Italy's government reaches deal on barbed justice reform

ROME (Reuters) - Italy’s ruling coalition reached a deal on Thursday over removing time constraints on the prosecution of numerous crimes, including corruption, defusing a row that had threatened the stability of the government.

“We have found an agreement,” Riccardo Molinari, a senior figure in the far-right League party, told reporters after a meeting of key government figures.

Thousands of legal cases collapse every year in Italy because magistrates are often unable to secure a definitive conviction before the statute of limitations kicks in.

The ruling 5-Star Movement, which has made battling corruption a priority, wants to remove many of the time constraints as quickly as possible.

Its coalition partner, the League, says any changes should form part of a more ambitious judicial reform, which will take months to devise, warning that easing the statute of limitations means defendants could face unacceptably long legal battles.

Under the terms of Thursday’s accord, the change to the statute will be approved by parliament this year but will only come into force in 2020 when a broad legal reform is enacted, Deputy Prime Minister and League leader Matteo Salvini said.

Luigi Di Maio, the head of the 5-Star who also serves as deputy prime minister, welcomed the deal having earlier warned in a newspaper interview that the government risked collapsing over the issue.

“(There will be) short trials with clear timeframes. Things are finally, really changing,” Di Maio said on Facebook.

Reporting by Giuseppe Fonte; Writing by Crispian Balmer

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