Former Italian president Francesco Cossiga dies

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Francesco Cossiga, a former Italian president and an enduring presence in Italy's post-war politics, has died at the age of 82.

He had been taken to hospital in Rome last week with respiratory and heart problems.

Cossiga served as interior minister in the 1970s, resigning after he failed to save the life of kidnapped Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978.

He was president from 1985-1992, before becoming an outspoken lifetime senator.

Cossiga was born on the Italian island of Sardinia in 1928 and was a cousin of the long-time leader of the Italian Communist Party, Enrico Berlinguer.

After studying law he rose through the ranks of the Christian Democratic party, entering parliament in 1958. He was made interior minister by Moro in 1976, leading Italy's efforts to combat domestic terrorist groups on the extreme left and right.

Moro was taken hostage by the Red Brigades and held for 54 days in a Roman suburb. The fact that authorities were unable to locate the apartment in which he was being held remains the subject of some mystery....

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