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Former Italian PM Berlusconi dies at 86

Former Italian Prime Minister and owner of AC Milan and Monza football clubs Silvio Berlusconi. Photo: dailypost

A former Italian Prime Minister and billionaire, Silvio Berlusconi is dead.

Mr Berlusconi, who died at the age of 86, was the owner of both AC Milan and Monza football clubs.

The ex-PM was said to have died on Monday at the San Raffaele hospital in Milan after complications from leukaemia.

Under his watch, AC Milan won five Champions League titles and eight Serie A championships between 1986 and 2017.

Mr Berlusconi then later acquired AC Monza who was at the third-division in 2018 and then guided it to Serie A promotion for the first time in their 110-year existence.

Political career

Mr Berlusconi was a billionaire businessman who created Italy’s largest media company before transforming the political landscape.

He had been suffering from leukaemia “for some time” and had recently developed a lung infection.

A four-time prime minister, Mr Berlusconi was a media mogul and political showman whose financial and sexual scandals made him the most polarising figure in modern Italy.

He created a business empire that at its peak stretched from not just top-flight football, but also to construction, television, publishing to retailing.

He used his wealth and media prowess to launch himself into politics in 1994, up-ending traditional parties in a way that another property mogul, Donald Trump, later did when he was elected US president in 2016.

A recent ABC report says Mr Berlusconi’s many critics believe he used his power primarily to protect his own business interests, pointing to Italy’s weak economic record, hidebound bureaucracy and unchecked corruption during his lengthy stints in government.

Voters repeatedly bought into his can-do exuberance and Berlusconi survived a string of diplomatic gaffes and scandals, including allegations he had sex with an underage girl and hosted wild orgies.

He said he only entered politics to halt the left.

“Politics was never my passion. It made me lose a lot of time and energy. If I entered the ring, it was just to prevent the communists from taking power,” he told Chi magazine in an interview to mark his 80th birthday in 2016.

Writing by Oluwaseyi Ajibade; Editing by Tony Okerafor