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Former Italian PM Giulio Andreotti dies at age 94

Italy’s former seven-time Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti, a key player in the country's post-war politics, has died at the age of 94. A controversial figure, he was once at the center of Italy's "trial of the century."

Guilio Andreotti, who helped draft Italy's constitution after World War II, died on Monday aged 94, Italian media reported. He had suffered from ill health for several years and had been hospitalized in August 2012 for heart trouble. He died at his home in central Rome, his relatives were quoted as saying.

Andreotti, with his characteristic hunched back and subtle humor, was an iconic post-war figure in Italian politics.

A leader of the now-defunct Christian Democratic Party, which dominated Italian politics for almost 50 years after WWII, he served as prime minister seven times.

Born in Rome on January 14, 1919, he was elected to parliament in Italy's first post-war election and served as a lawmaker in every subsequent parliament until his retirement in 1992. Until his death, he remained a senator-for-life.

Andreotti was also a controversial figure. He was prime minister in 1978 when the far-left Red Brigades kidnapped and killed former Prime Minister Aldo Moro. Critics blamed Andreotti for Moro's death as he had refused to negotiate with the kidnappers.

It was yet another political stain during the so-called "years of lead," in the 1970s and 80s when hundreds of Italians died in political violence.

Years later, after a high-profile trial in the late 90's, Andreotti was convicted to 24 years in prison for allegedly ordering the Mafia murder of an investigative journalist in 1979. However, an appeals court cleared him in 2003 and he served no time in prison.

The case was dubbed by the Italian press as "the trial of the century.”

hc/pfd (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)