Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s wounds after attack more severe than originally thought

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Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who was smashed in the face Sunday by a lunatic wielding a model cathedral, will be hospitalized for longer than expected, doctors said Monday.

“His condition is more serious than what we thought last night,” said Dr. Alberto Zangrillo. “He can feed himself, but with difficulty.”

Berlusconi, who suffered a broken nose, two fractured teeth and a lacerated lip, is being kept under observation at least through tomorrow.

The 73-year-old billionaire lost about a pint of blood, doctors said.

He will require three full weeks to recover and will miss the world climate conference in Copengagen next week.

“Berlusconi is beginning to feel the effects of the blow, but the premier is a lion,” said his spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti.

San Raffaele hospital head Luigi Verze, an 88-year-old priest, said a plaintive Berlusconi asked him, “Why do they hate me so much?”

Though Berlusconi was attacked by a mentally-ill electronics whiz with no political ties, both his supporters and detractors immediately blamed each other for inspiring the violence.

“He risked being seriously wounded or killed,” said Interior Minister Roberto Maroni.

Assailant Massimo Tartaglia, 42, who has a ten year history of mental problems and was described as an inventor, was being held in solitary confinement on suicide watch.

He smashed a marble-and-metal souvenir replica of Milan‘s famous Gothic Duomo into Berlusconi’s face as the controversial media mogul signed autographs in front of the real cathedral.

Police found another souvenir, a crucifix and a can of pepper spray in his pockets, Il Messagero reported.
Berlusconi supporters blamed the attack on a “climate of hate” they said was created by the left.

Leftists, meanwhile, blamed Berlusconi’s own belligerant rhetoric for poisoning the political atmosphere.

Berlusconi spokesman claimed the Prime Minister had a premonition as he drove to the rally Sunday evening.

“He said to me, ‘don’t you think that in this climate of hate something might happen?'” Bonaiuti said.

The attack was also predicted by his opponents.

Last week, anti-corruption crusader Antonio Di Pietro accused Berlusconi of “inciting citizens to violence” by continually blocking judicial proceedings against him.

On Monday, Di Pietro again blamed Berlusconi for the attack. “He instigates violence with his behavior and his I-could-care-less attitude,” he said.

All of Italy‘s major newspapers published front page editorials Monday calling for an end to inflamatory rhetoric.

“Political hatred is polluting the public debate,” wrote Il Corriere della Sera. “We are on the verge of war between two Italys that hate each other and are unable to talk to each other.”

At least 300 Facebook groups praising Tartaglia sprung up within an hour of the attack, one of which attracted 125,000 members. Then pro-Berlusconi Facebookers formed a group three times that big.

There was also a smaller group in praise of the model cathedral that perished in the attack.

But Berlusconi allies were not laughing off the web antics.

The minister for Europe and the minister in charge of police vowed to try to black out websites that “celebrate cowardly aggression” against Berlusconi, Il Messagero reported.

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