Italy’s ex-PM Berlusconi discharged from hospital after six weeks

The leader of Forza Italia returns home after 45 days of treatment for a lung infection linked to chronic leukaemia.

Forza Italia leader and former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi arrives for a meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome
Berlusconi was prime minister three times between 1994 and 2011 [File: Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

Italy’s ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has been discharged from a hospital in Milan, where he was admitted more than six weeks ago suffering from a lung infection linked to leukaemia.

The 86-year-old billionaire media mogul left from the San Raffaele Hospital on Friday without making any comments.

Italian media showed footage and pictures of Berlusconi being driven away in a dark limousine smiling and waving to reporters waiting outside the hospital shortly after 1pm (11:00 GMT).

Berlusconi was admitted on April 5 and spent the first week and a half in intensive care before being moved to a normal ward.

Although he rarely appears in public, Berlusconi currently serves as a senator and as president of his right-wing Forza Italia (Forward Italy) party, a junior partner in Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s coalition government.

Meloni visited him in hospital on Sunday, saying afterwards he had been “in an excellent mood” and was still working “tirelessly”.

An image depicting the Virgin Mary is placed next to a Forza Italia party logo outside the 'San Raffaele' hospital where former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is hospitalised, in Milan
An image depicting the Virgin Mary was placed next to a Forza Italia party logo outside the ‘San Raffaele’ hospital where Berlusconi was hospitalised [Nicola Marfisi/Reuters]

“Go Silvio”, she said on Twitter on Friday. “We are waiting for you in the field, to fight many battles together”.

He has also been visited by his Forza Italia deputy, Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, and coalition ally Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigration Lega (League) party.

“Welcome home, Great Silvio,” Salvini tweeted on Friday, while Tajani told Berlusconi on Twitter, “We’re all happy you’ve returned home.”

Video address

The former prime minister had hoped to be discharged earlier this month in time for a Forza Italia convention in Milan but ended up making a closing statement video link from his hospital room.

Smartly dressed and sitting behind a desk with his party’s banner and the Italian flag behind him, he thanked members for their support, “which more than anything helped me overcome a very dangerous pneumonia”.

Forza Italia party activists watch Silvio Berlusconi as he talks in his video address during a Forza Italia party convention in Milan
Forza Italia activists watch Berlusconi as he talks in his video address during a party convention in Milan [File: Luca Bruno/AP]

Berlusconi was prime minister three times between 1994 and 2011, but dominated Italian public life for far longer, as a businessman and media magnate and through his ownership of the AC Milan football club.

His career was also dogged by scandal and legal woes, which for the past 10 years were focused on proceedings relating to his notorious “Bunga Bunga” sex parties.

‘The most difficult ordeal’

His health has also been an increasing concern.

Berlusconi was in hospital for 11 days for COVID-related pneumonia in September 2020, after contracting the virus while on holiday in Sardinia. He described it as “perhaps the most difficult ordeal of my life”.

After being admitted for treatment for a lung infection last month, doctors revealed that he had “chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia”, a rare type of blood cancer.

The disease, which affects mainly older adults, starts in blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and goes on to invade the blood.

Berlusconi’s cancer was in a “persistent chronic phase” and had not yet turned into “acute leukaemia”, the doctors said.

In March, Berlusconi was admitted to the same Milan hospital where he spent four days.

Source: News Agencies