Italian ex-premier Andreotti hospitalized

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Giulio Andreotti, Italy's former seven-time premier, was hospitalized with heart problems stemming from a respiratory infection and was in serious, but stable condition Thursday, hospital officials said.

Andreotti, 93, was "lucid and conscious" in intensive care at Rome's Policlinico Gemelli hospital, his secretary Patrizia Chilelli told reporters at the hospital. While he showed a gradual improvement over the course of the day, his prognosis remained "reserved," the hospital said late Thursday.

At his prime, Andreotti was one of Italy's most powerful men: He helped draft the country's constitution after World War II, sat in parliament for 60 years and served as premier seven times. He remains a senator-for-life.

The Christian Democrat was accused of exchanging a "kiss of honor" with the Mafia's longtime No. 1 boss and indicted in what was called "the trial of the century" in Palermo in the mid-1990s. He denied any wrongdoing and was eventually cleared by Italy's highest court.