Silvio Berlusconi, the ex-prime minister of Italy, passed away at the age of 86.


Silvio Berlusconi, the former Prime Minister of Italy known for his charisma and controversial leadership, has passed away at the age of 86 in Milan, according to his lawyer who confirmed the news to CBS News. Berlusconi had been battling a rare form of leukemia and recently contracted a lung infection, as reported by Reuters.

Following his death, Guido Crosseto, the country’s defense chief, praised Berlusconi in a tweet, acknowledging the significant void left by his passing and describing him as a great figure. Crosseto also noted that an era had come to an end.

Berlusconi, who initially worked as a cruise ship singer, later transformed himself into a real estate tycoon and media mogul in the television industry. He ventured into Italian politics and served as the country’s prime minister for three terms, starting in 1994.

Despite his numerous controversial statements and gaffes, Berlusconi remained a dominant force in Italian politics and culture for two decades. He made remarks such as referring to former U.S. President Barack Obama as “sun-tanned” and suggesting it was preferable to like girls rather than being gay.

While Berlusconi often portrayed himself as a victim of “political correctness,” his involvement in morally questionable activities and questionable financial dealings led to legal consequences. He faced charges of paying an underage girl for sexual encounters, resulting in a seven-year prison sentence. Although these charges were eventually overturned, he faced over 20 separate trials related to corruption, embezzlement, and bribery allegations.

Berlusconi frequently claimed that he had attended approximately 2,500 court appearances. However, due to new financial laws he helped pass and the expiration of the statute of limitations, charges in six cases were dropped.

Throughout his legal battles, Berlusconi consistently dismissed the allegations as fiction and criticized what he referred to as “liberal elites,” “leftist” judges, and a “hostile media.” Ironically, he owned TV channels, magazines, and newspapers himself.

In 2013, Berlusconi was finally convicted of tax fraud, resulting in a four-year prison sentence that was later commuted to one year of community service at a nursing home due to his age. This marked the end of his prominent position in Italian politics, but his populist legacy demonstrated that individuals with star power could rise to the highest political offices despite limited political experience.

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