Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was punched in the face at the end of a rally on Sunday by a man holding a small statue in his hand, leaving the 73-year-old media mogul with a bloodied mouth and looking stunned, police said.
The 42-year-old man accused of attacking Berlusconi in Milan as he signed autographs was immediately taken into custody. TV showed the stunned leader with blood under his nose, on his mouth and under one eye being lifted to his feet by aides after the attack. Berlusconi was hustled into the back of a car, but he immediately got out, apparently in an effort to show he was not badly injured.
After looking out into the crowd, the premier, without saying a word, was pulled back into the vehicle.
The attack occurred after Berlusconi had just finished delivering a long, vigorous speech at the rally to a crowd of applauding supporters from his Freedom People party at about 6:30 p.m. Officials at Milan's police headquarters, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said the premier was conscious and apparently not badly injured. They said the attacker was wielding a miniature statue of Milan's Duomo, the city's gargoyled cathedral and symbol, but couldn't say what the souvenir was made of. Berlusconi's spokesman, speaking by telephone from the emergency room from San Raffaele hospital where the premier was taken, told Sky TG24 TV that doctors had decided to keep the premier in the hospital overnight for observation.
"We'll see what the doctors say on Monday morning," spokesman Paolo Bonauiti told Sky.
The exams of his jaw area included a CT scan, Bonaiuti said. Police identified the man they were questioning as Massimo Tartaglia, 42. They said Tartaglia didn't have any criminal record.