Former Italian PM, billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi dies at age 86

Berlusconi. Image credit: Ministry of the Presidency. Government of Spain/Wikipedia Creative Commons

Milan/IBNS: Former Italian Prime Minister and billionaire media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, who was hospitalized in Milan’s San Raffaele hospital for scheduled follow-up tests for a blood condition last week, died aged 86, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported on Monday.

Berlusconi’s hospitalization last week was not associated with any “critical” phenomena and that his health status was not worrying.

Silvio Berlusconi, who was once mired in sex scandals and allegations of corruption, had a lung infection in April and his ailment was in consequence of an undisclosed case of chronic leukemia (blood cancer), said media reports.

Reacting to the news of his demise, Italy’s Defence Minister Guido Crosetto tweeted that Berlusconi’s absence has left a “huge void”.

“An era is over… Farewell Silvio,”   Crosetto posted, adding that he “loved” Berlusconi “very much”, according to BBC.

Creative Commons/WikipediaCreative Commons/Wikipedia

He had led a centre-right coalition since 1994, when he entered politics and formed his Forza Italia party. 

He was a media tycoon and served as Prime Minister of Italy in four governments from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006 and 2008 to 2011.  He was a member of the Chamber of Deputies from 1994 to 2013; a member of the Senate of the Republic from 2022 to 2023, and previously from March to November 2013; and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2019 to 2023, and previously from 1999 to 2001.

With a net worth of US$6.8 billion as of June 2023, Berlusconi was the third-wealthiest person in Italy.

On 1 Aug 2013, Berlusconi was convicted of tax fraud by the Supreme Court of Cassation. His four-year prison sentence was confirmed, and he was banned from holding public office for two years. Aged 76, he was exempted from direct imprisonment, and instead served his sentence by doing unpaid community service

Silvio Berluscon was accused and initially convicted of paying a 17-year-old Moroccan Karima El Mahroug, also known by the stage name Ruby Rubacuori (Italian for “Ruby the Heartstealer”), for sexual services between Feb and May 2010 when she was under the age of 18; he was found not guilty on appeal.

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