Seven-time premier Giulio Andreotti dies aged 94

Known for shady links with the mafia, he helped draft the country's post-war constitution

Milan

Giulio Andreotti, the seven-time premier who came to personify Italian politics’ shady links with organised crime, has died – and taken many of the country’s darkest secrets with him to the grave.

Known as 'Beelzebub' or even the 'Mafioso Mummy' on account of his apparent immortality and cadaverous appearance - as well as his nefarious links with Cosa Nostra and the Vatican - the 94-year-old died on Monday morning after several months of heart problems.

A familiar, small, and hunched figure, Mr Andreotti’s impact on post-war Italy was enormous. He helped draft the country's constitution after World War II, sat in parliament for 60 years and served as premier seven times and as minister 21 times. He remained a senator-for-life.

Among many notorious incidents in his career the Christian Democrat politician was accused of exchanging a “kiss of honour” with Cosa Nostra Boss of Bosses Salvatore Riina, who was jailed in 1993.

In 2002 Mr Andreotti was sentenced to 24 years in prison for ordering the murder of an investigative journalist in 1979 after a high-profile trial, but a year later on second appeal he was cleared and served no time in prison. “I'm being blamed for everything, except for the Punic Wars,” was his typically sardonic comment.

He famously noted once that "power wears out ... those who don't have it." His influence began to decline, however, in the early1990s when the centrist Christian Democrat party, which had been in and out of power sense the war, finally imploded in the Tangentopoli mega-scandal of 1992, as magistrates investigated hundreds of MPs in a vast web of corruption.

Mr Andreotti always denied any wrongdoing and was not convicted in relation to Tangentopoli, unlike that other giant of post-war politics Bettino Craxi, who fled Italy to die in exile. Craxi’s own protégé  Silvio Berlusconi emerged from the rubble to assume power – and be on the receiving end of serious accusations of his own.

But anti-mafia magistrates have said that unlike certain prominent politicians who came after him, Mr Andreotti was not nobbled by the mob on account of his wealth and power, but actively cultivated links with organised crime, the details of which are never likely to be explained.

“He was as cunning as a fox,” Bobo Craxi, a junior foreign minister and the son of late Andreotti ally Bettino Craxi, told news channel Sky TG 24.

Giulia Bongiorno, the politician and top defence lawyer, hired by Mr Andreotti for many of his trials, said: “They'll say all sort of things about him. But those who knew him will feel a great sense of loss.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Agency Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Network Support Engineer is r...

Recruitment Genius: Account Director - Tech Startup - Direct Your Own Career Path

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Sales Advisor - OTE £35,000

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telephone Sales Advisor is re...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent