ROME – 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. The police official said the man apparently is a supporter of the premier. A search of the man's parked car found "hockey sticks and kitchen knives," the official said, but the man apparently plays hockey. 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.
Earlier, Berlusconi's spokesman, Paolo Bonaiuti, said his boss had a "rough night," 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.