Berlusconi in hospital after attack
MILAN, ITALY , DEC 14 - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi spent a quiet night in hospital and asked Monday to see the front page coverage of the attack that left him with a broken nose and two teeth knocked out, reports said.
The assailant threw a replica of Milan's gothic cathedral into the face of the 73-year-old billionaire after a rally in the northern city, in an attack that Italian newspapers said highlighted political tensions in the country.
Doctors said Berlusconi would spend up to two days in the San Rafaele Hospital, where a banner at the gates said: "Prime Minister Berlusconi get well soon. Real Italians are always with you," ANSA news agency reported.
A health bulletin was to be released on Monday.
Berlusconi 's alleged assailant, 42-year-old Massimo Tartaglia, was in an isolation cell in police custody. Police, who had to protect Tartaglia from an angry crowd as they detained him, say the suspect has a history of mental illness.
Tartaglia was also carrying a crucifix and tear gas, ANSA reported. His father, "upset" over the attack, tried to telephone Berlusconi in hospital but could not get through, ANSA said.
Berlusconi 's bloodied face dominated Italian newspapers on Monday, with even media that oppose the conservative prime minister condemning the incident and the political atmosphere in Italy.
"Constitutional violence" was the headline on the Berlusconi family's Il Giornale newspaper.
"The assailant is mad but the moral instigators are known even among some centre-right politicians," said the daily.
The left-wing La Repubblica said the attack "highlights the degradation of the political climate in Italy."
"Friends and enemies, partisans and opponents must show solidarity" with Berlusconi . "What is at stake is nothing less than liberty," it said.
Corriere della Sera said there is a "poisoned climate" in Italy. "Political hate is a monster which when unchained is difficult to control," said a commentary in the centrist paper.
Before the attack, scuffles broke out after about 10 people jeered Berlusconi at the rally of his People of Freedom party on Sunday, calling him a "clown".
He shouted back at them "shame on you", drowning them out with the help of the sound system.
Berlusconi was the victim of a similar assault in Rome in 2004 when a man hit him with a camera tripod, cutting his head.
The flamboyant prime minister has come under increasing pressure in recent months over his private life and business affairs.
On Friday he dismissed accusations of Mafia ties made by a turncoat criminal at an Italian court.
Berlusconi , who began his third stint as prime minister in May last year, said he would not bow to pressure to go to the polls early.
A series of allegations about his private life this year led his wife Veronica Lario to file for divorce.
Lario, 53, is seeking 43 million euros (65 million dollars) a year in a divorce settlement, Corriere della Sera said.
Upset over her husband's reported dalliances with younger women, the last straw for Lario came in April when he attended the 18th birthday party of aspiring model Noemi Letizia.
Berlusconi 's penchant for controversial public statements has also added to the political pressure.
"The left says I'm a monster. But I'm not a monster and I'm a good boy," Berlusconi said at Sunday's rally with a wide smile.
Italy's top court in October quashed an amnesty law that would have benefitted the three-time prime minister, who faces a series of corruption charges.
On Friday in Milan, one corruption trial in which Berlusconi is accused was adjourned until January 15.
The prime minister faces allegations that he paid his British former tax lawyer, David Mills, 600,000 dollars to give false evidence in two trials in the 1990s.
Mills, who was tried separately, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail over the case in February.
Posted on: 2009-12-14 06:14