Italy’s former PM Silvio Berlusconi in intensive care

The 86-year-old billionaire media tycoon, who has served as prime minister four times, has suffered numerous bouts of ill health in recent years.

Berlusconi became a billionaire from his television channels before entering politics [File: Alessandra Tarantino/AP]

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is being treated in intensive care in a cardiac unit at Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital.

The 86-year-old billionaire media tycoon was admitted early on Wednesday and his current condition was “stable”, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

“He has been admitted to intensive care because a problem caused by an infection has not been resolved, but he is speaking,” Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, a longtime ally of Berlusconi, told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday.

Berlusconi, who has served as prime minister four times, has suffered repeated bouts of poor health in recent years and was released from hospital just last week.

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party is part of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing coalition although he does not have a role in her government.

Berlusconi, who made a fortune through his television channels before entering politics, had heart surgery in 2016 and has also had prostate cancer. He has been repeatedly admitted to hospital over the past couple of years after contracting COVID-19 in 2020.

Berlusconi stepped down as prime minister for the last time in 2011 as Italy came close to a Greek-style debt crisis. He was also weighed down by his own scandals.

He was returned to the Senate of the Italian parliament after a general election in September. In January 2022, Berlusconi withdrew his name from consideration to be Italy’s president.

Berlusconi has stirred controversy in recent months with his criticism of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, putting him at odds with Meloni.

An Italian court acquitted Berlusconi in February of allegations of paying witnesses to lie in an underage prostitution case that has dogged the former prime minister for more than a decade.

Berlusconi was accused of bribing 24 people, mostly young female guests at his so-called Bunga Bunga parties, during a previous trial in which he was charged with paying a 17-year-old Moroccan nightclub dancer for sex.

Source: News Agencies