Italy’s ex-premier Berlusconi undergoes heart surgery


ROME (AP) — Media mogul Silvio Berlusconi, who served three times as Italian premier, was undergoing heart surgery Tuesday at a Milan hospital.

San Raffaele hospital said the surgery began mid-morning but released no details.

Berlusconi, 79, was admitted to the hospital on June 5 suffering from what his doctors said was a potentially fatal heart-valve problem.

The surgery was expected to take about four hours. Berlusconi’s personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, was attending the surgery to replace his aortic valve, which wasn’t closing properly.

Family members made no comment as they arrived at the hospital. At one point, Berlusconi’s companion, Francesca Pascale, clutching a handkerchief or facial tissue, was seen at a hospital window.

Zangrillo has indicated that, assuming surgery is successful, Berlusconi — whose business empire includes media and advertising companies, including Italy’s three main private TV channels, and soccer club AC Milan — could resume an active life in about a month.

A tax fraud conviction forced Berlusconi to give up his Senate seat, but he still leads the Forza Italia party he created when leaping into politics more than 20 years ago. Weakened by infighting and prominent defections, the party did poorly in local mayoral races earlier this month.