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Defendants' rights upheld by new wiretap law says minister

Defendants' rights upheld by new wiretap law says minister

The rights of defendants are guaranteed under a new law that regulates the use of transcripts of wiretaps or video recordings more tightly, Italy's justice minister Andrea Orlando said on Tuesday.

"The defence can always ask for parts (of wiretap transcripts) it claims are irrelevant to be produced or withheld," Orlando told Radio24News.

The release of audio or video recordings deemed fraudulent or slanderous, which are not court documents or relevant to freedom of information, is now a crime punishable for up to four years in jail under the government decree issued last week.

The decree also outlaws the release of recordings and transcripts that are judged "irrelevant" to any legal proceedings.

Investigators must forward all recordings and transcripts to the public prosecutors' office within five days unless doing so "severely compromises" a probe. Material that the public prosecutor deems irrelevant will be kept on file and a request can be made for its destruction.

Lawyers and their clients may request copies of all legally relevant material held on file by public prosecutors but only after it has it has been examined by a judge, the decree states.

Defence teams are granted at least 10 days to consult all filed transcripts under the decree, which also bans investigators from planting Trojan viruses on electronic devices for surveillance purposes unless they are probing mafia or terrorism suspects.