5th Mar 2024

Broken nose culminates year of scandal for Italian leader

  • Mr Berlusconi at an EU summit last week, where he allegedly drew women's knickers out of boredom (Photo: Council of European Union)

Scandal-prone Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi is recovering in hospital after having his nose and teeth broken by a man who hit him in the face with a statuette after a rally in Milan.

Images of the shocked and bloody prime minister were shown on all Italian TV stations on Sunday night (13 December). The attacker, identified as 42-year old Massimo Tartaglia, was detained by police immediately after the incident, as Mr Berlusconi was being rushed to the hospital.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Mr Tartaglia does not have a criminal record. But according to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, he has been receiving treatment for mental health problems over the past 10 years. "It wasn't me. I am nobody," he reportedly said when seized by Mr Berlusconi's guards.

The premier's doctor, Alberto Zangrillo, said Mr Berlusconi could be kept in hospital for 48 hours. "He suffered a big trauma to his face with two evident wounds on the upper lip, one external and one internal which needed surgical suture," the doctor explained.

The rally in Milan included a small group of protesters who booed the Italian leader and called him a "bufoon". Mr Berlusconi lost his temper and said they should be "ashamed." But the attack took place later, as he was signing autographs close to his car.

The billionaire media tycoon has been attacked before. In 2004, while in Rome, a young man hit him in the head with a camera tripod.

A national embarrassment to some, but still backed by most Italians, Mr Berlusconi has this year been at the centre of a series of sex-scandals involving teenagers and call-girls.

He has also tried to clamp down on opposition media and publicly lashed out at the country's venerable president Giorgio Napolitano.

Tens of thousands joined an anti-Berlusconi rally in Rome last week, with Sunday's assault signaling an increased "climate of violence" in the anti-Berlusconi backlash, his spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, said.

"This hurts the country," he added.

An article in the British tabloid, the Mail on Sunday, is unlikely to enhance the Italian leaders' standing on the world stage.

The paper cites unnamed sources as saying that at an EU summit last week, the Italian premier made doodles of women's underwear and passed them round to his other EU leaders during a debate on climate change.

"No one could believe it," the unnamed official told the British newspaper. "He was scribbling away and then sent round some jottings with women's knickers on it. Some people were amused. Some were not."


Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour

Ukrainians struggle to match the kindness of individual Hungarians with the nationalist government's pro-Russia rhetoric. "Ukraine's primary enemies are Russians and Putin, obviously. But the number two is Viktor Orbán," Viktoria Petrovszka, a Ukrainian woman living in Hungary, says.


Almost 20 names in running for EU top jobs

With four months until the European Parliament elections, there are already some 20 names in the hat for the ensuing reshuffle of EU top jobs.


The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity

The EU's own analysis has made it clear this is economic self-sabotage, and it's politically foolish three months from European elections where the far-right are predicted to increase support, writes the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Latest News

  1. EU must overhaul Africa trade offer to parry China, warns MEP
  2. EU watchdog faults European Commission over Libya
  3. Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour
  4. The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity
  5. Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK
  6. The farming lobby vs Europe's wolves
  7. EU socialists fight battle on two fronts in election campaign
  8. EU docks €32m in funding to UN Gaza agency pending audit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us