Berlusconi leaves Milan hospital

ROME - Four days after being attacked at a political rally, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was whisked away from a Milan hospital yesterday.

Berlusconi, 73, waved weakly to photographers as he entered his car, a stark contrast to his usually ebullient appearances filled with broad smiles and autograph signings.

During one such foray into a crowd Sunday, a man with a history of psychological problems hurled a souvenir statue of Milan's cathedral into Berlusconi's face, breaking the prime minister's nose and two teeth.

A large bandage covered part of the left side of Berlusconi's face and his nose as he left the San Raffaele hospital. His attacker, identified as Massimo Tartaglia, 42, remains in a Milan prison. - AP

Detained hikers hold off on lawyer

MINNEAPOLIS - The mothers of three American hikers detained in Iran said yesterday that they have held off on hiring a lawyer for their children and are still hopeful the three will be freed without being put on trial.

Iran's foreign minister said Monday that the three would be tried in court.

"We just feel the Iranians have had almost five months to look at our children, and we really believe they know and understand the kids are innocent and if anything, what they did was an accident," said Laura Fattal, the mother of Josh Fattal. She spoke by phone to the Associated Press from her home in Elkins Park.

Fattal, 27, along with Shane Bauer, 27, and Sarah Shourd, 31 - all graduates of the University of California at Berkeley - had been trekking in Iraq's northern Kurdistan region when they accidentally crossed the unmarked border into Iran, according to their relatives. - AP

Portugal weighs gay marriage

LISBON, Portugal - Portugal's Socialist government has drawn up a proposal that would make Portugal the sixth European country to allow same-sex marriage.

The law is almost certain to pass, as the center-left Socialist government has the support of all left-of-center parties, who together have a majority in Parliament. Right-of-center parties oppose the measure.

The proposal changes Portuguese law to remove references to marriage being between two people of different sexes, cabinet minister Pedro Silva Pereira told a news conference yesterday, adding the government will send its proposal to lawmakers for a debate, probably in January. - AP

Elsewhere:

Brazil's Supreme Court yesterday delayed the return of a 9-year-old boy to his father, David Goldman of Tinton Falls, N.J., only hours after Goldman arrived in hopes of taking the boy home for Christmas. In 2004, Goldman's wife, Bruna Bianchi, took Sean to her native Brazil. The couple later divorced.

Lawmakers voted to ease Spain's abortion law yesterday, approving a bill to allow the procedure without restrictions up to 14 weeks.

Residents were moved yesterday outside the danger zone near the Mayon volcano near Legazpi, Philippines, which looked set for a major eruption after days of shooting ash plumes and spilling lava.