Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi passed away on Monday at the age of 86 after suffering a lung infection, Reuters reported.
The billionaire media mogul who was known for his polarizing policies and frequent brazen remarks, was Italy’s long-serving prime minister.
Berlusconi suffered from leukemia and recently developed a lung infection. He was admitted to San Raffaele Hospital in Milan on Friday where he later died.
A state funeral was held on Wednesday at Milan Cathedral, with the Italian government declaring June 14 a national day of mourning.
Berlusconi launched his career in politics in 1994, backed by his media empire and his vast wealth. He was elected prime minister four times, first from 1994 to 1995, then from 2001 to 2005, then from 2005 to 2006, and again from 2008 until 2011.
When he stepped down in 2011, Italy was on the brink of a debt crisis, and Berlusconi’s reputation was severely damaged over allegations that he hosted “bunga bunga” parties with underage girls, a claim he denied.
He was acquitted on appeal on the charges related to the parties. But he was convicted of tax fraud, leading to a 5-year ban on Berlusconi’s holding public office. Berlusconi was still facing trial at the time of his death.
Despite his legal and health problems, Berlusconi refused to give up control of the Forza Italia party. In 2019, he was elected to a seat in the EU parliament, and in 2022, he was elected to the Italian Senate.
On Monday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his condolences to Berlusconi’s family and the Italian people, calling the controversial politician a “tremendously significant figure” in Italy.
Berlusconi is survived by his partner, Fascina, 33, as well as his two ex-wives, five children, over a dozen grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.