Italian ex-PM Berlusconi in hospital again: lawyer

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Berlusconi, 84, has dominated public life in Italy since the 1980s as a media tycoon and three-time prime minister

Former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been hospitalised, his lawyer said Wednesday, during the latest court hearing over the media mogul's "bunga-bunga" parties.

"Due to health problems, Berlusconi has been hospitalised since Monday morning," said his attorney, Federico Cecconi, at the hearing in Milan.

The flamboyant 84-year-old billionaire and media tycoon, who has dominated public life in Italy since the 1980s as a businessman and three-time prime minister, has had a string of health problems in recent years.

In January, Berlusconi -- who had open heart surgery in 2016 -- was admitted to a hospital in Monaco for heart problems. Last September, he was hospitalised for 11 days with Covid-19.

On Wednesday, a source within Berlusconi's Forza Italia party said doctors had carried out previously scheduled tests at the hospital, adding that Berlusconi's condition was not worrying.

Cecconi did not ask for a postponement because of the hospitalisation.

The hearing regards the latest prong of the long-running investigation involving Berlusconi's infamous "bunga-bunga" parties and the participation of alleged underage prostitute Karima El-Mahroug, dubbed "Ruby the heart-stealer".

The probe involves alleged payments to witnesses by Berlusconi to buy their silence over the parties.

Prosecutors say that Berlusconi paid 10 million euros (some $12 million) between 2011 and 2015 to various people. Seven million euros allegedly went to Ruby, who was a minor when she participated in the parties.

Berlusconi has always maintained that investigations against him have been politically motivated.

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