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Berlusconi in hospital after Milan attack

RIA Novosti

00:53 14/12/2009 ROME/MOSCOW, December 13 (RIA Novosti) - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was attacked after his party meeting in Milan on Sunday and was taken to hospital with blood on his face, Italian media said.

The attack occurred as the 73-year-old prime minister completed his speech and was moving through the crowd. Italian television initially reported that an attacker hit Berlusconi in the face, but his spokesman Paolo Bonaiuti later said the premier was struck by an unknown object.

The top official is currently under medical observation in hospital, he suffered a broken nose and a fractured tooth, the Corriere della Sera said.

Police arrested 42-year-old Massimo Tartaglia in connection with the attack. According to ANSA, the man has been receiving mental health treatment for about 10 years.

Bonaiuti said he suspected the attack to be a result of current political tensions in the country.

The premier faced increasing pressure in the past weeks. Last Thursday a turncoat mafia boss, Gaspare Spatuzza, said during court hearings that Berlusconi and his old-time friend, senator Marcello Dell'Utri, had ties with mafia. A day later a rally gathered in Rome demanding for Berlusconi to resign.

The prime minister said he would not bow to public pressure and leave the post before his term expires.

It is the second time Berlusconi, who became the country's prime minister for the third time in May 2008, has been attacked in public. In 2004, an attacker hit him in the head with a camera tripod in Rome.

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