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Jul 23,2007
Italian doctor cleared in euthanasia case
by UPI

ROME -- An Italian doctor who helped a terminally ill man die has been cleared of consensual murder charges by a court in Rome.

Judge Zaira Secchi ruled in favor of anesthetist Mario Riccio, saying the doctor didn't commit a crime by helping advanced muscular dystrophy patient Piergiorgio Welby end his life by sedating him and unplugging his respirator, ANSA reported Monday.

Welby had been denied permission to end his own life by a Rome court and a health ministry panel.

However, Secchi ruled that Welby had the right to decide whether his life support system remained functioning and Riccio was duty-bound to honor Welby's wishes.

Guiseppe Rossodivita, an attorney for Riccio, hailed the judge's "landmark decision."

"This sentence acknowledges the right of a sick person to refuse treatment," he told ANSA.

"I'm delighted with this (verdict)," Riccio said. "The case was taking a dangerous turn for me, with the risk of 15 years in jail."

"This sentence tells us what we already know, namely that a patient can refuse treatment, even if it's life saving, and above all, that this right can be delegated to another person," he said in the ANSA article.

Copyright © 2007, by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

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