Tale of two assaults

Tale of two assaults

Tale of two assaults

Silvio Berlusconi

More than 80 years ago, the then Italian PM Mussolini also suffered a violent attack and sustained facial injuries just like Berlusconi — the Fascist dictator was next seen in public with a bandage covering part of his face, ‘The Daily Telegraph’ reported.
A published photograph of the bandaged Mussolini, whose nose had been grazed by a badly aimed shot at his head, showed him displaying defiant insouciance — much as 73-year- old Berlusconi whose face is similarly bandaged after spending four nights in Milan’s San Raffaele hospital last week.

Berlusconi’s assailant was an angry Italian man with a history of mental illness, and doctors said the attack could have killed him. As it was, it left him with a broken nose, two cracked teeth, and blood pouring down his face.

Likewise, Mussolini’s assailant was an angry 50-year- old Irish aristocrat, Violet Gibson, who shot at him as he was leaving a meeting in 1926, grazing his nose. She was lucky to escape being lynched and subsequently deported to Britain and spent rest of her life in a mental hospital.

Italian commentators have drawn a comparison between Gibson and Berlusconi’s attacker, Massimo Tartaglia, 42, an inventor and electronics engineer who is being held in a Milan prison and faces up to five years behind bars if convicted of aggravated assault.

“When I saw Berlusconi with his face bandaged, I immediately thought of the famous photo of Mussolini, likewise with a plaster over his nose,” Professor Christopher Duggan, a Mussolini biographer and head of modern Italian history at Reading University, was quoted as saying.

Mussolini was able to use the attempt on his life to reinforce his pose as man of courage and principle under attack from lunatics and extremists, thus pushing Italy towards Fascism and his disastrous alliance with Hitler.

Berlusconi and his supporters may similarly be able to exploit the assault against him to increase his support among Italian voters.
“Berlusconi is absolutely brilliant at using the media and I’m sure he and his advisers will do everything they can to make huge political capital out of this,” said Prof Duggan.