Blood covers part of the face of Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi after he was attacked in downtown Milan December 13, 2009. Berlusconi was taken to hospital with blood smeared over his face after a man hurled a small model of Milan cathedral at him at a political rally, police said on Sunday.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was rushed to hospital covered in blood with a broken nose and teeth after a man with mental problems hurled a statuette at him at a rally, officials said on Sunday.
Berlusconi was bundled intoa car, with blood spattered over his face, and whisked away after the assault in a square behind the cathedral in the northern city of Milan. The media mogulhad just ended a speech to thousands of flag-wavingsupporters.
The 73-year-old prime minister, a popular but divisive figure, said "I'm fine, I'm fine" as he arrived at the hospital.
He later told an Italian television presenter visiting him that he considered it "miraculous" not to have lost an eye in the attack, the Ansa news agency said.
His personal doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said the premier had suffered a fractured nose, two broken teeth and cuts to his lips that required stitches.
He said Berlusconi would be kept in at least overnight for observation and would need up to 15 days to recover. The tycoon would not need surgery but could be kept in hospital for long as 48 hours, Zangrillo said.
"This is truly a bad day for Italy, and it's the duty of all the political forces to ensure that Italy does not go back to the years of violence," said Gianfranco Fini, Berlusconi's top conservative ally, one of many to denounce the incident.
A 42-year-old Italian man who has been under treatment for mental problems for 10 years was arrested for throwing a souvenir plaster statuette of the cathedral at Berlusconi from close range, police said. Sources close to the investigation named the man as Massimo Tartaglia.
The incident triggered an outpouringof solidarity for Berlusconi from allies and critics alike, just as the prime minister seeks to regain political momentum after a bruisingyear battling mounting legal troubles and sex scandals.