Berlusconi Collapses During Speech

Politics | November 26, 2006, Sunday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi slumped at the podium while delivering a lengthy speech to political supporters in northern Italy's Tuscany on Sunday.

Live television footage showed him closing his eyes while talking and slowly collapsing into the arms of his aides.

Former Chamber of Deputies speaker Irene Pivetti told the crowd that Berlusconi had "fallen ill because the tension, because of the emotion" of the speech.

After some 40 minutes of railing against Premier Romano Prodi's government, Berlusconi suddenly looked weak and aides rushed to his side to prop him up as he gripped the podium.

Fellow conservative politician Marcello Dell'Utri told the crowd to stay calm and wait until Berlusconi returned to speak, but he was unable to stand up and had to be carried out of the room.

He was examined by a doctor, and a spokesman later said Berlusconi had struggled with the heat and suffered a drop in blood pressure.

Twice prime minister, Berlusconi has been leader of the opposition since losing power in elections in April.

Mr Berlusconi - Italy's richest man - went on trial last week for alleged fraud and money laundering and could face up to 12 years in jail if convicted.
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