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Political row over Italy coma death

February 11, 2009

Published: February 11 2009

Supporters of Italy’s centre-right government hit out at Giorgio Napolitano, the leftwing president, blaming him for the death of Eluana Englaro, who had lain in a vegetative state for 17 years until doctors removed her feeding tubes. Englaro, 38, died as the Senate was debating a government bill that would have obliged doctors to reconnect the tubes.

The government had sought to rush the bill through parliament after Mr Napolitano blocked – on constitutional grounds – a decree the cabinet issued last Friday to “save” her hours after doctors started to withdraw nutrition.

Il Giornale, a rightwing newspaper controlled by the family of Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, ran the headline, “They killed her”, and a commentary sarcastically entitled, “Well done, Napolitano”.

Critics of Mr Berlusconi said he was seeking to exploit an emotional issue in an attempt to enhance the powers of the executive.

Polls showed most Italians supported Englaro’s father, who had fought in the courts to allow his daughter to die in dignity.

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