Silvio Berlusconi is recovering in hospital having been assaulted at a Milan rally. The Italian prime minister was hit in the face by a man armed with a model of Milan cathedral, breaking two of his teeth and fracturing his nose.
The assault rounds off a difficult year for Mr Berlusconi, with 2009 having been blighted by scandals and gaffes. In October, Italy's Constitutional Court overturned a law granting the prime minister immunity from prosecution while in office.
Last April, during the G20 summit in London, Mr Berlusconi appeared to upset Queen Elizabeth II with his noisy behaviour during photocalls. TV footage showed the Queen turn round and exclaim: "Why does he have to shout?"
He caused another diplomatic gaffe in Germany, missing a photocall with Nato's 27 other leaders because he was talking on his mobile phone. It later emerged he had been talking to Turkey's prime minister in a bid to resolve a row over the next Nato chief.
A few days later, after the devastating earthquake in the Abruzzo region, he was accused of insensitivity after telling a German TV station that the 18,000 people forced to live in tents should treat it as a "weekend of camping".
In early May his wife Veronica Lario announced she was divorcing him, saying she could not remain with a man "who consorts with minors". Mr Berlusconi responded by demanding an apology from her.
It followed claims Mr Berlusconi attended model Noemi Letizia's 18th birthday, reportedly buying her a golden necklace studded with diamonds as a present.
A wave of revelations followed. Allegations of parties at his residences attended by escort girls centred on Patrizia D'Addario, who claimed she had slept with him. Mr Berlusconi denied paying for sex, saying it "takes away the thrill of the conquest".
He appeared to get the cold shoulder from Michelle Obama, who shook his hand rather than kiss him at the G20 in Pittsburgh. A few days later, he referred for a second time to President Obama as "sun-tanned", adding "even his wife is sun-tanned".
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