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Europe

Berlusconi set to be released after three nights in hospital

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-16

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is to be released Wednesday after spending three nights in the hospital but has been ordered to forgo public duties for two weeks. A weekend attack left the premier with a broken nose and facial contusions.

AFP - Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was set to be released Wednesday after spending a third night in hospital following a bloody weekend attack, but will be under doctors' orders to forgo public duties for two weeks.
   
The 73-year-old leader will be discharged in the early afternoon while still recovering from the attack that left him with a broken nose and other facial injuries by a man with a reported history of mental illness.
   
He thanked well-wishers from his hospital bed Tuesday, in his first public statement since the assailant struck him in the face with a souvenir replica of Milan's cathedral after a political rally in the northern city.
   
"Thanks to all of the many who sent me messages of support and affection. I say to all of you, stay calm and happy. Love always triumphs over hate and envy," Berlusconi said.
   
The billionaire leader, who has already cancelled plans to attend the UN climate summit in Copenhagen, must "abstain from all activities that would expose him to public situations, to stress," said his doctor, Alberto Zangrillo.
   
The ANSA news agency said the prime minister had cancelled all official commitments for December including cabinet meetings.
   
These include his traditional end-of-year news conference and Christmas Eve visit to L'Aquila, the central Italian city where nearly 300 people died in an earthquake in April.
   
Berlusconi's assailant faces charges of aggravated assault and up to five years in prison if convicted.
   
The man, 42-year-old Massimo Tartiglia, sent a letter to Berlusconi apologising for what he called a "superficial, cowardly and inconsiderate act".
   
New messages of sympathy poured in on Tuesday including from Berlusconi's Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin who praised him in a telephone conversation for his "manly behaviour" following the attack, a spokesman said.
   
Berlusconi later received a call from US President Barack Obama, who "wished him a quick recovery," according to a statement from the prime minister's office.
   
Italy's political left and right traded barbs over tensions seen as contributing to the attack.
   
"The hand of the person who assaulted Berlusconi was armed by a merciless hate campaign," said Fabrizio Cicchitto, a member of Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom party.
   
Cicchitto accused the left-leaning Espresso weekly and daily La Repubblica, anti-corruption politician Antonio Di Pietro and some television programmes of "almost wanting to transform (political) confrontation into a civil war."
   
Di Pietro, who heads the small Italy of Values party, shot back: "We are not an opposition out of hatred towards Berlusconi but out of love for our country."
   
In La Repubblica Di Pietro accused Berlusconi of encouraging a climate of "violence" through verbal attacks on a variety of perceived enemies.
   
The media tycoon has recently targeted prosecutors seeking his conviction on corruption charges, as well the Constitutional Court, which threw out an immunity law that protected him from prosecution while in office.
   
Last month after a Mafia turncoat alleged he had links with organised crime in the early 1990s, Berlusconi threatened to "strangle the authors of fiction about the Mafia."
   
The government moved to close down Internet sites encouraging further violence against Berlusconi, prompting centrist politician Pierferdinando Casini to raise freedom-of-speech concerns.
   
Pages on the social networking site Facebook both for and against Berlusconi's attacker were removed Tuesday.
   
The head of a parliamentary security watchdog sought to allay concerns over Berlusconi's security detail, describing the attack as an "isolated event that is not linked to any political wish or figure."
   
Francesco Rutelli, whose panel oversees Italy's secret services, added: "There were so many bodyguards around Silvio Berlusconi that you could look at it as a fluke that he was hit full in the face by the object that was thrown."
   
The attack came as Berlusconi, now in his third term as prime minister, fights mounting domestic troubles.
   
Allegations about dalliances with a young woman led his wife Veronica Lario to file for divorce. She is reportedly seeking a settlement of 43 million euros (65 million dollars) a year.
   
Last Friday a Milan court adjourned one of the corruption trials against Berlusconi until January 15.

 

Date created : 2009-12-16

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