Wednesday, December 16, 2009
ROME (AFP) - – The Italian government moved Tuesday to close down Internet sites encouraging further violence against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who suffered a bloody attack at the weekend.
"After Sunday's very serious attack a proliferation of sites... praise the head of government's assailant," Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told parliament.
"As has happened in the past, they incite violence against Berlusconi," Maroni said.
"Judicial authorities have been alerted, but we also plan legislative initiatives to bring about the closure of these sites that send out messages of real incitement to delinquency, with the effects that we have all seen," he added.
The attack by a man with a history of mental problems occurred in Berlusconi's native Milan on Sunday, leaving the 73-year-old prime minister with a broken nose, two broken teeth and other facial injuries.
The assailant, 42-year-old Massimo Tartiglia, hurled a heavy souvenir model of Milan's many-spired gothic cathedral at Berlusconi following a political rally in the northern city.
Two groups on the social networking site Facebook are already under investigation.
One calling itself "Ten, a Hundred, a Thousand Massimo Tartiglias" counted 84,000 members as of Tuesday.
Another is called simply "Death to Berlusconi".
Rome prosecutors launched a probe in October into calls for the assassination of Berlusconi posted on Facebook.
Legal authorities asked Facebook to pass on the personal details of those making the threats and threatened to sue if it does not comply.
The government also wants to set up a way to monitor the Internet to combat content that incites hatred and violence, Maroni said.
Berlusconi will leave hospital on Wednesday after which he will be under doctor's orders to halt "important" public activities for "at least" two weeks, his personal physician said Tuesday.
Tartaglia, who is in jail facing charges of inflicting premeditated gross bodily harm, has sent a letter to Berlusconi apologising for what he called a "superficial, cowardly and inconsiderate act".