ROME - The man who attacked Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi apologized to him for his "superficial, cowardly, and uncontrolled" attack as a judge considered whether the suspect should be transferred to a psychiatric hospital.

Massimo Tartaglia, 42, who has a history of psychological problems, wrote a letter to Berlusconi through his lawyers, saying he was sorry for his act, the lawyers said in a communique.

Berlusconi, 73, was struck in the face Sunday as he signed autographs in Milan. Tartaglia hurled a statuette of Milan's Duomo at the prime minister, breaking Berlusconi's nose and two teeth and cutting his lips. Tartaglia was questioned yesterday in jail.

Defense lawyer Daniela Insalaco said outside Milan's San Vittore prison that she was awaiting a ruling on whether Tartaglia should be sent to a psychiatric unit. It was not clear when that ruling would be issued.

Berlusconi, from his hospital bed, thanked all those who sent good wishes. He urged his supporters to remain calm. "Love always wins over envy and hatred," he said in the message posted on his party's Web site.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, in an address to parliament, said Tartaglia had been carrying pepper spray and a crucifix, suggesting that the attack was planned.

Medical officials said Berlusconi must remain hospitalized until at least today and probably should cancel all public activities throughout the Christmas season.