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Dangerous Souvenirs

Posted in Uncategorized by michaelhughes on December 15, 2009

Haroon Siddique and agencies
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 15 December 2009 11.47 GMT
Article history

A Silvio Berlusconi supporter holds a banner reading ‘Berlusconi, you are a great man, a myth, you will remain in history. Thank you for what you do for our country, the stars are with you” outside the San Raffaele hospital where the prime minister is recovering after the statue attack in Milan.

Silvio Berlusconi models with blood on their faces on sale in Naples. Photograph: Roberto Salomone/AFP/Getty Images

The Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, is to be kept in hospital for another night as he recovers from the attack in which he was struck by a model of Milan’s cathedral, his personal doctor said today.

A statement released by the San Raffaele hospital said the 73-year-old, who suffered a broken nose and two broken teeth in Sunday’s attack, was in pain but his condition was not worrying. His doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said he was unlikely to return to work for 10 days.

Italy’s interior minister, Roberto Maroni, said the “actions” of Massimo Tartaglia, 42, who threw the souvenir at Berlusconi during a political rally outside Milan’s gothic cathedral, were premeditated, saying the attacker had been “developing a rage against the prime minister for some time”.

Maroni said Tartaglia had been in the square from 11am on Sunday morning and, as well as the plastic model cathedral, obtained from a stall nearby, was carrying pepper spray and a resin crucifix.

In a letter to the Italian leader, Tartaglia expressed his “heartfelt regret for a superficial, cowardly and rash act in which he did not recognise himself”, the attacker’s lawyers said. They added that their client, who has a history of mental health problems, acted alone and did not have a political agenda.

Berlusconi was shaking hands and signing autographs when he was struck. He was taken to hospital with his face bloodied.

There was condemnation of the attack from across the political spectrum but the Italian media has suggested the incident reflected the prime minister’s polarising effect on the public.

Italy’s best-selling daily newspaper, Corriere della Sera, said it was indicative of the “civil war” going on in Italian politics.

Berlusconi’s popularity has fallen after a year in which he has been embroiled in sex scandals detailing his alleged use of prostitutes. He has also experienced legal troubles with the constitutional court throwing out a law that granted him immunity. That could open him up to a series of trials for fraud, tax evasion and bribery. But despite his troubles his approval rating remains just over 50%.

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