UPDATE: Video surfaces of hurled figurine smacking into Berlusconi's face
(video at bottom plays automatically -- clip of Italian PM being struck is within first few seconds)
Even the elite are mortal.
During an appearance in Milan on Sunday, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was hit in the face by a statuette, allegedly hurled by a man in the crowd. The missile fractured his nose, broke two of his teeth and injured his lip, according to the Associated Press.
Photographs and video from the scene of near-pandemonium show the embattled 73-year-old lawmaker struggling to get into his vehicle as his entourage tried to keep protesters at bay. The whole time, his mouth was slick with blood, a cut on his upper lip quite apparent. After he was in the car, he climbed back out and looked at the crowd, but did not say a word. Berlusconi's bodyguards quickly pulled him back inside and he was rushed away.
An initial report said Berlusconi had been hit by a flung object, but Italian media cited police in reporting that a man punched the prime minister while holding a figurine. Video later surfaced of a fast-moving object striking the left side of the Berlusconi's face.
Police took a suspect into custody almost immediately. The man was identified as Massimo Tartaglia, 42.
Berlusconi's doctors told media they have decided to keep the prime minister in the hospital overnight for observation.
His speech in Milan had been marked by loud protesters in the crowd. Aided by the sound system at the venue, he drowned them out, but police later intervened in fights between the hecklers and security staff.
Berlusconi, who has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks, dismissed as "a farce" on Friday accusations of mafia ties made by a turncoat criminal at an Italian court.
His third term as Italy's prime minister began in May 2008.
This video is from Italian station La Sul 7, published to the Web on Dec. 13, 2009. (Video plays automatically.)
Mediaite snagged the following video, broadcast by Italian state television on Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009.
This video was captured from Italian television on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2009.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/v/uf5QTbEEStY&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&hl=en_US&feature=player_embedded&fs=1 expand=1]
A prior version of this report cited Italian media in claiming Berlusconi had been "punched" in the face.