Man Tries to Visit Berlusconi in Hospital

A young man with mental problems managed on Wednesday to reach the hospital floor where Premier Silvio Berlusconi was recovering from an attack, and police were questioning him, authorities said.

A Milan anti-terrorism police official said the man "wanted to pay a visit on the premier at 2 a.m." Wednesday and made it to the entrance of the seventh floor of Milan's San Raffaele Hospital where Berlusconi, 73, and other patients were being treated. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he didn't have advance authorization to talk with a reporter.

Police questioned the 26-year-old Turin man at Milan police headquarters but planned to release him, saying he apparently is a supporter of the premier. A search of the man's parked car found "hockey sticks and kitchen knives," the official said. The suspect apparently plays hockey, but he will be cited for transporting the knives without justification, the official said.

The man, whose identity was not immediately released, was unarmed when he reached the seventh floor, the official said.

Berlusconi was struck in the face with a statuette on Sunday night as he signed autographs at a rally in Milan. The attack broke his nose and two teeth and cut his lips. Police said the attacker, Massimo Tartaglia, a Milan man suffering years of psychological problems, has been detained. Doctors were expected to examine the premier and media mogul before discharging him later on Wednesday.

The attack, which shocked Italians, came as Berlusconi is fending off a sex scandal and legal troubles that have led to what he calls "climate of hatred" against him. Berlusconi's injuries have stirred public sympathy - but also spite. Groups praising Berlusconi's assailant mushroomed on Facebook in the aftermath of the attack.

Berlusconi's spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, said his boss had a "rough night" Tuesday, with more pain from his wounds than he felt the two previous nights. But Berlusconi enjoyed receiving a phone call from President Barack Obama.

Bonaiuti said Obama called Tuesday night to offer get-well wishes.

The spokesman said Berlusconi's pain had "sharpened" a bit, and that an old neck problem was also causing him pain.

A Milan judge on Wednesday denied a request by Tartaglia's lawyers for their client to be transferred from San Vittore prison to the psychiatric ward of a hospital, Italian news reports said. The judge also upheld the arrest warrant, the ANSA news agency said.

Phones went unanswered at the offices of Tartaglia's lawyers.

Since Berlusconi was assaulted, some of the allies in his conservative coalition have been urging the government to crack down on Web sites that contain material inciting people to political violence or hatred. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, denying Italian news reports, said a Cabinet meeting planned Thursday will not propose "censoring" but will take up a measure that will allow magistrates to remove Web pages instigating or advocating violence.

Facebook in Italy said in a statement Wednesday that it is examining "with extreme attention all the requests of intervention about content" regarding Berlusconi. "We will reply swiftly, removing every kind of content that directly threatens or supports violent acts against persons."

It added it was in contact with Italian authorities about the matter.