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Ex-Italian PM Giulio Andreotti dead at 94

Andreotti, one of Italy's most powerful men, was accused of having links with the mafia and for being involved in the 1979 slaying of an Italian journalist.

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Ex-Italian Prime Minister and senator for life Giulio Andreotti chaired the first Senate assembly of the 13th legislature during the election of Italy's Senate President on April 29, 2008 at Palazzo Madama in Rome. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images)

BRUSSELS, Belgium — Giulio Andreotti, who served as Italian prime minister seven times and foreign minister six times, has died at the age of 94 at his home in Rome.

Nick-named the fox, Andreotti was a consummate political insider who symbolized an era of Italian politics running from the end of WWII until the 1990s.

During that period, Andreotti's Christian Democratic party had a near monopoly of power, but in-fighting among factions within the ruling party meant governments rarely lasted a year.

Andreotti first entered parliament in 1946, became a minister in 1954 and served three terms as prime minister between 1972 and 1992.

He was rarely out of government and his reputation as an omnipotent string-puller earned him another nickname "Belzebu," or "Beelzebub."

In 1991, a year before he quit politics, he was made a senator for life.

"Power wears you out," he said in 1951, "if you don't have it."

A devout Catholic, Andreotti was renowned for his friendships with popes and cardinals.

Andreotti's suspected Mafia links made him a controversial figure in Italian politics.

He was accused of exchanging the “kiss of honor” with a top Mafia boss, and in 2002, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison on charges of ordering the killing of a muck-raking journalist, who often targeted Andreotti in his articles. The conviction was overturned on appeal the following year and Andreotti walked away scot free.

Andreotti was also cleared of colluding with the Mafia. He always denied the charges.

"Some might have hoped I wouldn't get here. But here I am, thanks to God," Andreotti, then 84, said at the time of the final ruling in the murder case dubbed by the Italian media as the “trial of the century.”

The whiff of scandal however never entirely lifted, and Italy's ultimate operator never made it to the country's top job — the largely ceremonial post of president.

Andreotti had four children with his wife, Livia Danese.

Paul Ames contributed reporting from Brussels.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/italy/130506/ex-italian-pm-prime-minister-giulio-andreotti-dead-mafia