Berlusconi plots Forza Italia relaunch from hospital bed

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is planning to relaunch his political party, Forza Italia, when he comes out of hospital on July 5th, according to reports in the Italian media.

Berlusconi plots Forza Italia relaunch from hospital bed
Silvio Berlusconi is reportedly hoping to relaunch his political party, Forza Italia. Photo: Alberto Solaro/AFP

The 80-year-old billionaire underwent open heart surgery to replace his aortic valve after sustaining a heart attack earlier this month, but is showing no signs of slowing down.

Indeed, during his time in hospital he has been visited by a never-ending trail of political allies with whom he has discussed his idea to relaunch Forza Italia, Corriere della Sera reported.

“I've just spent a few hours with him and I'm amazed he has so much strength and energy, just one week after the operation,” Adriano Galliani, the CEO of Berlusconi's A.C Milan football club told the paper.

The ex-prime minister is believed to be working on a 15-point programme to relaunch Forza Italia and wants to hold a party conference as early as this autumn. The party has performed disastrously at local, regional and European elections since 2013, when it became a branch of the People of Freedom party (Pdl).

It is suggested that the 47-year-old president of Liguria, Giovanni Toti, could be given a leading role in the new-look Forza Italia.

But in spite of the media mogul's energy and enthusiasm, his children are reportedly eager to see him retire from political life and Berlusconi's medics at Milan's San Raffaele hospital have also warned against him doing too much too soon.

“He needs to rest,” said Berlusconi's personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo. “The operation really took it out of him and he is in a lot of pain.”

Berlusconi is not expected to leave hospital before July 5th, during which time he may even be visited by his long-term friend and political ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin

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Italian PM Meloni refuses to back down on reporter ‘defamation’ trial

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Tuesday she will not withdraw her defamation suit against anti-mafia reporter Roberto Saviano, despite growing criticism that her position of power might skew the trial in her favour.

Italian PM Meloni refuses to back down on reporter 'defamation' trial

On Tuesday, the hard-right leader told Italian daily Corriere della Sera that she was confident the case would be treated with the necessary “impartiality”.

Meloni sued anti-mafia reporter Saviano for alleged defamation after he called her a “bastard” in a 2020 televised outburst over her attitude towards vulnerable migrants.

Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party was in opposition at the time, but took office last month after an electoral campaign that promised to stop migrants crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa.

Press freedom watchdogs and supporters of Saviano have called for the trial, which opened earlier in November, to be scrapped.

READ ALSO: Anti-mafia reporter on trial for ‘defaming’ Italy’s far-right PM

“I don’t understand the request to withdraw the complaint on the pretext that I am now prime minister,” Meloni said.

“I believe that all this will be treated with impartiality, considering the separation of powers.”

She also added: “I am simply asking the court where the line is between the legitimate right to criticise, gratuitous insult and defamation.”

Saviano, best known for his international mafia bestseller “Gomorrah”, faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

The case dates back to December 2020 when Saviano was asked on a political TV chat show for a comment on the death of a six-month-old baby from Guinea in a shipwreck.

On the occasion, he railed at Meloni, who in 2019 had said that charity vessels which rescue migrants “should be sunk”.

Saviano is not the only journalist Meloni is taking to trial. One of the country’s best-known investigative reporters, Emiliano Fittipaldi, said last week the prime minister had sued him for defamation.

READ ALSO: Italian PM Meloni takes another investigative reporter to court

That trial is set to start in 2024.

Watchdogs say such trials are symbolic of a culture in Italy in which public figures intimidate reporters with repeated lawsuits, threatening the erosion of a free press.