Berlusconi in Hospital With Heart Problem

Silvio Berlusconi, former Italian former Premier and president of the Forza Italia party, speaks in Zagreb, Croatia, in November 2019. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

ROME (AFP) — Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has been admitted to hospital in Monaco after suffering heart problems, a spokesman and his doctor said Thursday.

The 84-year-old media tycoon “is at the Cardiothoracic Hospital in Monaco for tests. He will return home within a few days”, his spokesman told AFP.

Berlusconi, who was Italy’s prime minister for his center-right Forza Italy party three times between 1994 and 2011, has had a string of health issues in recent years.

He underwent open heart surgery in 2016, and last September was hospitalized for 11 days with coronavirus.

His personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, told the ANSA news agency that he made an urgent visit to Berlusconi in the south of France on Monday because of an irregular heart beat.

“I decided on an urgent hospitalization at the Monaco cardiac center, deeming imprudent a transfer to Italy,” he said.

Berlusconi contracted Covid-19 after returning from a holiday at his luxury villa in Sardinia, where infections were spiraling. 

Two of his children also became infected, as did his companion Marta Fascina.

“Thank heavens, thanks to the doctors, I got over what was perhaps the most difficult ordeal of my life,” he said as he left hospital. 

“Once again, I seem to have got away with it!”

As a media and sports tycoon, billionaire playboy and scandal-plagued politician, Berlusconi has dominated Italian public life for decades.

The one-time cruise ship entertainer charmed millions of Italians with his bravado and off-color jokes, but his critics accuse him of corruption and using his media empire for political gain.

A hearing due Thursday in the latest case against him, related to the infamous “Bunga Bunga” sex parties he threw while premier, was postponed to April following his hospitalization.

Berlusconi was convicted but later acquitted of sex with a minor and abuse of office in the scandal over parties with prostitutes hosted at his villa near Milan.

But the current trial, in Siena, concerns alleged payments made by Berlusconi to people who attended the parties in exchange for their silence. 

Prosecutors have asked for a sentence of four years and two months. 

© Agence France-Presse

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