An attacker hurled a statuette at Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, striking the leader in the face at the end of a rally on Sunday and leaving the stunned 73-year-old media mogul with a broken nose and bloodied mouth.
Police said the 42-year-old man accused of attacking Mr. Berlusconi as he signed autographs in Milan was immediately taken into custody. The Italian leader was rushed to a hospital where he was being held overnight.
The attack occurred at a time when Berlusconi, one of Italy’s wealthiest men, is embroiled in a sex scandal, a divorce case with his wife and public protests demanding his resignation.
TV showed the stunned leader with blood under his nose, on his mouth and under one eye as he was lifted to his feet by aides after Sunday’s attack. He was hustled into the back of a car, but he immediately got out, apparently to show he was not badly injured.
But Mr. Berlusconi suffered a “small fracture” of the nose, two broken teeth and an injury to the inside and outside of his lip, said Paolo Klun, chief spokesman for Milan’s San Raffaele Hospital.
“He wanted to go home right away, but he is being held as a precaution” for overnight observation, Mr. Klun said. The premier suffered “a significant bruising trauma from this blunt instrument that was hurled at him.”
Mr. Berlusconi was “very shaken and demoralized,” Mr. Klun said. “He didn’t understand very well what happened to him.”
Immediately after the attack, the premier, after getting out of the car and without saying a word, was pulled back into the vehicle by bodyguards.
The attack occurred after Mr. Berlusconi had just finished delivering a long, vigorous speech at the rally to thousands of applauding supporters from his Freedom People party in the square outside the cathedral at about 6:30 p.m.
Police identified the man they were questioning as Massimo Tartaglia, 42. They said Tartaglia didn’t have any criminal record but had suffered psychological problems in the past.
On Sunday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano condemned the “grave and unusual gesture of aggression” against Mr. Berlusconi. In a statement, the head of state renewed his plea that conflicting political points of view be expressed “within the limits of responsible self-control” and while “preventing and heading off every impulse and spiral of violence.”