A doctor who removed a terminally ill muscular dystrophy patient from his artificial respirator will not be tried for "consensual homicide," an Italian judge ruled Monday, the ANSA news agency reported.
The doctor, Mario Riccio, is an anaesthetist who acted on Piergiorgio Welby's wish to be allowed to die after being artificially kept alive for a decade.
AdvertisementWelby, who was entirely paralysed, had written a book entitled "Let Me Die" and published an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano seeking a relaxation of Italian laws against euthanasia.
A disciplinary panel of Riccio's medical association cleared him of any wrongdoing in February.
Rome's prosecutor's office sought in June to close the case, but the investigating magistrate insisted on pursuing Riccio with the charge of consensual homicide.
Roman judge Zaira Secchi on Monday said she agreed with the argument that Riccio's action "was justified by the constitution and international provisions that have been integrated with Italian law" banning excessive care, according to prosecutor Francesca Loy.
Welby's case aroused great emotion in Italy, whose highly influential Catholic Church refused to allow a Catholic funeral for him.
The case also pointed up a void in Italian law, which forbids euthanasia but upholds a patient's right to refuse care.
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