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Silvio Berlusconi leaves hospital after bowel operation

ROME — Former Italian prime minister and media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, 82, was released from hospital on Monday after undergoing an operation for a bowel obstruction.

“I’m fine, I had quite a fright,” the billionaire told journalists as he left the San Raffaele hospital in Milan.

“Many things have happened recently that made me think I had reached the end of the line, but instead I’ve recovered amazingly well,” he said.

The three-time premier was admitted last Tuesday with acute abdominal pain, forcing him to miss a rally of his Forza Italia Party ahead of this month’s European parliamentary elections.

“I promised those who looked after me: I will campaign for the elections,” he said Monday, though he added that he would limit his appearances to television, radio and newspaper interviews, rather than attending public rallies.

A former crooner turned property and media magnate, Berlusconi was Italian prime minister for his centre-right Forza Italia on three occasions between 1994 and 2011. 

Despite his regular brushes with the law and health concerns — including open heart surgery three years ago — the man known as “the immortal” for his longevity in politics led the Italian right for more than two decades.

Berlusconi has faced a string of charges over the so-called Rubygate scandal linked to his parties and the underaged prostitute Karima El Mahroug, also known as “Ruby the heart-stealer”.

The businessman is currently on trial accused of paying a witness to give false testimony about his notoriously hedonistic parties.

Berlusconi is also being investigated or prosecuted for alleged witness tampering in Milan, Sienna, Rome and Turin, each time accused of paying people to keep quiet about his so-called “bunga-bunga” parties.

Forza Italia is currently in opposition, with 105 MPs in Italy’s 630-seat lower house.

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