Giulio Andreotti: Ex-Italian prime minister dies

Giulio Andreotti Giulio Andreotti was known for his political cunning

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Giulio Andreotti, one of the most prominent political figures of post-war Italy, has died aged 94.

Mr Andreotti was Italian prime minister seven times between 1972 and 1992. He led the Christian Democrat party, which dominated Italian politics for decades.

He was dogged in later years by allegations of corruption and Mafia links.

He died at home in Rome. He was reported to have suffered heart and respiratory problems in recent years.

Rome's Mayor, Gianni Alemanno, called Mr Andreotti "the most representative politician" in recent Italian history.


News of the death of Giulio Andreotti led every Italian newspaper and TV and radio bulletin. Although two decades have passed since his last stint as prime minister, Mr Andreotti's legendary negotiating and political skills continue to fascinate Italians.

La Repubblica ran an editorial entitled The Cult of Power and a selection of some of his best known witticisms. The Corriere della Sera recalled that he had led the successful bid to hold the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.

Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Mr Andreotti had, just like himself, been demonised by the left and been the victim of Italian criminal justice.

The stooped, slightly hunched, bespectacled Christian Democrat politician with big ears was a gift to Italian cartoonists. His physical presence was unmistakeable, and he was everywhere during his five decades as political power broker.

He served as government minister no fewer than 23 times, including seven time as prime minister, five times as foreign minister, and eight times as defence minister. And even during his latter years as life senator, when he was fighting the law on what he insisted were trumped-up charges of Mafia conspiracy, he preserved his reputation for political savvy.

But others saw him as an arch political manipulator.

Another former Prime Minister, Massimo D'Alema, said he was "a highly disputed figure... for his conception of power".

Mr Andreotti entered the Italian parliament in 1946 and remained there for more than 60 years, before seeing out his days as a senator-for-life.

He had a reputation for cunning. He managed to find and meet the Pope as an eight-year-old after sneaking away from a Vatican tour group.

He later became one of the founding fathers of the post-war Italian republic, says the BBC's David Willey in Rome.

He was a junior minister at the age of 28, and went on to serve as either prime minister or a senior minister in the many frequently changing Christian Democratic coalitions that held power almost continuously between 1946 and 1992.

The party then lost power and collapsed.

'Kiss of honour'

He was strongly anti-communist, pro-American and supportive of Nato.

He was known as a pro-European who committed Italy to European integration and helped forge the way forward to a single currency.

He was one of the most prominent figures of the "years of lead" during the 1970s and 1980s, when hundreds of people were killed in political violence.

And he himself faced a string of allegations of links with corrupt financiers and top criminals.

Giulio Andreotti

  • 1919 Born in Rome
  • 1942 While studying law in Rome, becomes head of Catholic student movement
  • 1946 Elected to constituent assembly, helps draw up new constitution
  • 1954 At 34, becomes Italy's youngest ever interior minister
  • 1972-73 First period as prime minister
  • 1976-79 Second period as PM
  • 1989-92 Third period as PM
  • 1999 Acquitted in murder trial; 2002 Convicted on appeal; 2003 Conviction overturned

He was accused by a supergrass of sharing a "kiss of honour" with the Mafia's "boss of bosses", Toto Riina, at a secret meeting in 1987.

And he was tried for allegedly ordering the murder of a journalist who had threatened to publish details of his alleged Mafia involvement.

His acquittal was subsequently overturned by an appeals court, which sentenced him to 24 years in prison - before that ruling, too, was overturned.

However, in 2004, Italy's top appeals court did uphold a verdict that he had "consciously and deliberately cultivated a stable relationship" with Mafia bosses.

But he was not formally convicted because the offence had lapsed under Italy's statute of limitations.

And he remained a senator and an influential political figure until his final years, not least because of his close ties with the Vatican.

He died at his apartment in Rome, just a stone's throw from Vatican City.

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