Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi spent the night under observation in a Milan hospital after being struck in the face with a statuette that was hurled at him Sunday as he was shook hands after a political rally.
He is in good condition but suffered a fractured nose, two broken teeth and has a headache this morning, according to a hospital spokesman.
His private doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, ordered an MRI and a few days of hospitalization to ensure that the 73-year-old leader is not more seriously injured.
Video cameras captured the prime minister's security detail pouncing on the attacker, Massimo Tartaglia, a 42-year-old man from the Milan area with a history of mental illness. Berlusconi, his face covered in blood, remained calm but was quickly hustled into his limousine.
But perhaps to signal he was not seriously injured, Berlusconi got out of the car to wave to the crowd one last time before being taken to the hospital where doctors stitched a deep cut on his lip.
His spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, said the prime minister was shocked and had not immediately realized the seriousness of his injuries.
Tartaglia allegedly threw a small metal souvenir replica of the Duomo, the historic cathedral in central Milan and the site of the political rally where the attack occurred.
While Berlusconi receives members of his government and family today at St. Raffaelle hospital, top security officials are holding a summit to discuss how Tartaglia managed to get close enough to the prime minister to injure him. The deputy prime minister, Gianfranco Fini, and the defense minister, Ignazio La Russa, refused to comment after visiting the prime minister.
Berlusconi has been embroiled in serious controversy in the past few months, which has polarized the political scene in Italy. He recently lost a court decision that overturned a law his supporters passed that gave him immunity from prosecution for previous criminal charges.
Did Berlusconi's Politics Motivate Attacker?
Berlusconi enraged some members of the government last week when he said the country was "ruled by judges" who were out get to him. The comment brought a quick rebuke from the country's president and even members of Berlusconi's own government. Some observers blame Sunday's attack on the level of political tension in the country.
Many newspapers condemned the attack today. In a sign that both sides are trying to calm political tensions, the leader of the opposition, Pierluigi Bersani, made the trip to Milan to visit Berlusconi. Some politicians fear that the attack will only further deepen the political divide in the country.
Tens of thousands of people marched in Rome earlier this month to demand the prime minister's resignation. He has also been embarrassed by a string of reports linking him to prostitutes and relationships with young women, which has affected his standing in the polls.
Tartaglia is being held at San Vittore prison in central Milan. He has not yet been charged as police continue their investigation.
Police found a jagged piece of plastic glass, nearly 8 inches long, a foot-long crucifix and a heavy quartz decoration, weighing at least half a pound, in the bag Tartaglia was carrying when he was caught, according to Italian news agency ANSA. He is being accused of pre-meditation because he took the objects from his home.
Tartaglia justified his actions during questioning by investigators, saying his motivation was political, according to ANSA. He apparently spoke of strong disagreement with Berlusconi's politics.
His parents told Italian media that their son had never expressed political interest before the incident and that they did not know he was going to the rally.
He has been treated for the past 10 years for mental illness and there have been sporadic incidents of violence, his family said.