ROME, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Former Italian president Francisco Cossiga, an enduring figure in post-war Italian politics, has died, officials announced.
Cossiga, 82, had been in a Rome hospital since last week with respiratory and heart problems, the BBC reported.
He was born on the Italian island of Sardinia in 1928 and after studying law rose through the ranks of the Christian Democratic party, entering parliament in 1958.
Cossiga was the country's interior minister in the 1970s, resigning after the failure to rescue and save the life of kidnapped Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978.
Moro was taken hostage by the Red Brigades and held for 54 days in a Rome suburb.
Cossiga declared himself "politically dead" after Moro's body was found in the trunk of a car.
He served as Italy's president, a largely ceremonial post (1985-92), afterwards becoming an outspoken lifetime senator.
His strongly worded outbursts towards the end of his life earned Cossiga the nickname "picconatore," literally meaning someone who wields a pick-axe, the BBC said.