Giulio Andreotti, 7-times Italian prime minister, dies

Giulio Andreotti, 7-times Italian prime minister, dies

ROME - Reuters
Giulio Andreotti, 7-times Italian prime minister, dies

This file picture taken on April 29, 2008 at Palazzo Madama in Rome shows senator for life Giulio Andreotti chairing the first Senate assembly of the 13th legislature during the election of Italy's Senate President. Andreotti, who served as the Prime Minister of Italy seven times, aged 93, died on May 6, 2012. AFP PHOTO / FILES / Filippo MONTEFORTE

Giulio Andreotti, seven times Italian prime minister and one of the country's most prominent post-war figures, has died at the age of 94, family sources said on Monday.

Andreotti, a leading member of the defunct Christian Democrat (DC) party which dominated Italian politics for almost fifty years after World War Two, was a lawmaker in every Italian parliament since 1945. He was made a senator for life in 1991.

Andreotti, with his characteristic hunched back and understated irony, was an iconic figure who polarised Italian public opinion from when he entered government at the age of 28 to when he was accused of murder and Mafia involvement in the late 1990s. He was later acquitted.

Andreotti surrounded by intrigue

ROME - Agence France-Presse

Giulio Andreotti was a behind-the-scenes power broker of Italian post-war political life, accused of shadowy links with the mafia and the Vatican.

A government minister for over three decades, Andreotti was involved through all the upheavals that rocked Italy from World War II until his retirement from mainstream political life in 1992, after which he stayed on as senator-for-life.

Born in Rome on January 14, 1919, he was elected to parliament in 1946 and became a junior minister -- at the start of a lengthy career.

He was known for his love of political intrigue and close ties with the Vatican, beginning his career with the pro-Catholic Christian Democratic party before going on to be prime minister seven times and a minister 21 times.

With his stooped figure and bespectacled, hangdog expression, Andreotti was a controversial figure who was inevitably associated with a period of extremist political militancy that rocked Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.

At various points in his career he was nicknamed "The Untouchable", "The Black Pope" and "The Divo" in an award-winning 2008 film on his life.

Andreotti was once convicted to 24 years in prison for ordering the murder of an investigative journalist in 1979 after a high-profile trial, but an appeals court cleared him in 2003 and he served no time in prison.