After 17 Days as Minister, Aldo Brancher Resigns, Faces Trial in Court

After 17 days as Minister for the Application of the Federalist Reform, Aldo Brancher has stepped down from his government duties to take on a court trial against him and his wife.

Brancher was nominated by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on June 19, after which he tried in vain to appeal to a recently approved law that gave government officials the right to delay court hearings in case of “legitimate impediment.”

“I thought I had to privilege my obligations towards the nation for a brief period of time,” Brancher told Judge Annamaria Gatto in a Milan court on Monday. “But since this decision has been widely exploited, I decided to make other choices, as a sign of respect towards my family first of all and also to put an end to the speculation.”

On June 25, just six days after his nomination, Brancher had seen his legitimate impediment request denied by President Giorgio Napolitano, who did not find any valid reason why Brancher would not be able to show up for his court hearing.

Brancher has been indicted, alongside his wife Luana Maniezzo, of embezzlement and for receiving approximately one million euro in bribes from ex-banker Giampiero Fiorani.

Brancher, who worked for Berlusconi’s Fininvest company in the mid-’80s and then got politically involved with Berlusconi’s center-right party Forza Italia, has asked Judge Gatto for a speedy trial that will prevent any further testimony to be brought in front of the court.

The Italian justice system is structured so that anyone can ask for three degrees of justice. If found guilty after the first degree, Brancher could appeal the decision twice, ultimately asking for a final decision from the Court of Cassation.

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