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Attack on Berlusconi could have been fatal - interior minister

RIA Novosti

17:33 14/12/2009 ROME, December 14 (RIA Novosti) - Italy's interior minister said on Monday yesterday's attack on Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi could have been fatal and pledged measures to improve his security.

Berlusconi, 73, is still in hospital with broken nose, two teeth and injured upper lip after a man hurled a souvenir statuette at the premier while he was greeting the crowd and signing autographs after a flamboyant speech in Milan.

Speaking at a security conference in Milan, Roberto Maroni said: "Silvio Berlusconi could have been seriously injured or even killed yesterday."

Berlusconi told the Ansa news agency that he was "fine" and that it was a "miracle" he had not been struck in the eye.

Maroni pledged measures to improve the prime minister's security.

The minister also reiterated that the attack was a result of the atmosphere of "political intolerance" prevailing in the country.

The attacker, Massimo Tartaglia, 42, who was later reported to have a long record of mental illness, was jailed in the San Vittore prison last night. During preliminary questioning, he said he strongly opposed Berlusconi and the policies of the Italian government.

The premier has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks. Last Thursday, a mafia boss said during court hearings that Berlusconi and his old-time friend, senator Marcello Dell'Utri, had ties with the mafia. A day later a rally gathered in Rome to demand Berlusconi's resignation.

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