76° Good Evening
76° Good Evening

Officials: Berlusconi in hospital until Wednesday

ROME - ROME (AP) — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi must stay in the hospital until at least Wednesday and should probably cancel all public activities throughout the Christmas season, hospital officials said Tuesday.

The 73-year-old leader was hit in the face Sunday with a statuette hurled by a mentally disturbed man as Berlusconi signed autographs in Milan. The attack left the premier with a fractured nose, two broken teeth and cuts on his lips.

The medical bulletin issued Tuesday by the San Raffaele hospital in Milan says Berlusconi was still in pain but his condition was not worrisome. It recommended that Berlusconi not be involved in public activities for at least two weeks.

"He greatly wants to get over this difficult moment. I would be happy if we could slow him down a little," Berlusconi's spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti told TV broadcaster SkyTg24.

The attack has already forced the cancellation of some of Berlusconi's plans, including a meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Rome on Wednesday. Berlusconi's participation at a U.N. climate summit in Copenhagen — where he was scheduled to travel on Thursday — was also unlikely.

The attacker, a 42-year-old man with a history of psychological problems, has been arrested and was being questioned in jail Tuesday. Police have identified him as Massimo Tartaglia.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni adressed lawmakers in parliament Tuesday, saying Tartaglia was carrying pepper spray and a crucifix as he was waiting for Berlusconi at the rally.

Tartaglia's defense lawyer, Daniela Insalaco, told reporters outside Milan's San Vittore prison that a judge is expected to rule on a request to have Tartaglia transferred to a psychiatric hospital unit.

The man reportedly wrote a letter to Berlusconi late Monday, saying he was sorry for his "superficial, cowardly and uncontrolled" act.

Berlusconi's doctor Alberto Zangrillo told reporters outside the hospital that the premier is doing better but is "saddened."

The attack, which shocked Italians, came amid an increasingly tense political atmosphere. Berlusconi has for months denounced a "climate of hatred" he says surrounds him as he fends off a sex scandal and judicial troubles.

The bloody image of Berlusconi has created sympathy, but groups praising Berlusconi's assailant mushroomed on Facebook in the aftermath of the attack.

On Tuesday, EU president-to-be Herman Van Rompuy condemned the attack.

"This brutal and pointless attack has shocked us all. I wish him a swift recovery and a rapid return to the leadership of Italy," he said.

Other get-well wishes from Italians and foreign officials, including the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have poured in after the attack.


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

News Photos and Videos