- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 17, 2009

MILAN — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, his face bandaged, left a Milan hospital on Thursday, four days after being attacked by a mentally ill man at a political rally.

The 73-year-old Mr. Berlusconi took a few steps out of the San Raffaele Hospital before getting into one of several cars in a waiting motorcade. He waved weakly to photographers and looked grim as he slowly was driven away.

A large bandage covered part of the left side of Mr. Berlusconi’s face, including his nose, which was broken when the man hurled a souvenir statue of Milan’s cathedral at him after Mr. Berlusconi had just led a supporters’ rally.

Another bandage was placed between Mr. Berlusconi’s nose and lip. He broke two teeth in the attack.

News reports said the motorcade was headed to Arcore, the media mogul’s villa on the outskirts of Milan.

The attacker, identified as Massimo Tartaglia, is under arrest in a Milan prison.

Earlier in the week, doctors said Mr. Berlusconi probably would be discharged on Wednesday, but after the premier’s third night in hospital was marked by an increase in pain, they decided to keep him in for another day.

Known for his seemingly boundless energy, Mr. Berlusconi was ordered by his doctors to cancel or reduce public appearances through the Christmas season.

A Cabinet meeting in Rome was held without the premier’s presence. Mr. Berlusconi was also skipping the last days of the climate change conference in Copenhagen.

Mr. Berlusconi is fending off a sex scandal and legal troubles and has lamented he is the target of a “climate of hatred.” Mr. Berlusconi’s injuries have stirred public sympathy, but groups praising Mr. Tartaglia mushroomed on Facebook after the attack.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said a measure that would allow magistrates to remove Web pages that instigate or advocate violence was on the Cabinet’s agenda.

Facebook in Italy said it was examining “with extreme attention” requests by Italian officials to take down content regarding Mr. Berlusconi and was in contact with Italian authorities about the matter.

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