Silvio Berlusconi , former Italian PM dies aged 86

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Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has died at the age of 86. The former Italian leader, the country’s third longest-serving prime minister, died on Monday at Milan’s San Raffaele hospital. He had spent six weeks receiving treatment at the facility for a chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia-related lung infection.

Mr Berlusconi was born in Milan in 1936 to Mr Luigi Berlusconi, a banker and Rosa Bossi, a housewife. He completed Salesian College before enrolling at the University of Milan to study law and graduated in 1961 with honours.

Berlusconi ventured into business with his first establishment Milano Due which built 4,000 residential apartments east of Milan. He then ventured into media by setting up TeleMilano, a small cable television that was meant to service the residential area he built at Segregate. He later bought two other channels and moved the station to the centre of Milan where he broadcasted over the airwaves.

In 1994, Berlusconi was elected to the Chamber of Deputies and later appointed Primer Minister following the general elections which gave Forza Italia a slim majority despite it being just three months old in Italian politics. He lost the position in the 1996 general elections but after contesting again in 2001, he won and remained in office till 2006. Berlusconi then again became Prime Minister in 2008 after the general elections but resigned in 2011 amidst the European debt crisis.

Following his first victory as Prime Minister in 1994, he became the first Italian Prime Minister to not have previously held a government office prior to his election. When he served also between 2001 and 2006, it became the longest period served by one person since World War II.

In 2012, he was convicted of tax fraud and given a one-year sentence which he spent doing part-time community service at a residential home in Milan. He was banned from running for office but the ban was lifted ahead of the 2018 general elections. However, his Forza Italia-led coalition could not secure the 40% required to lead the country.

During the uprising in Libya which led to the killing of Muammar Gadafi, Berlusconi spoke against it despite his country’s voting in support of the military intervention which was led by the US. He said, “I had my hands tied by the vote of the parliament of my country. But I was against and I am against this intervention which will end in a way that no one knows. This wasn’t a popular uprising because Gaddafi was loved by his people, as I was able to see when I went to Libya.”

Berlusconi was also the owner of A.C. Milan from 1986 to 2017. He bought the club and saved it from bankruptcy. However, the club was falling into stagnation after failing to win anything significant. The club was sold to Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co in 2017 marking the end of Berlusconi’s involvement as the club’s owner.

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