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Medical board to investigate doctor who disconnected respirator of Italian right-to-die activist

Medical board to investigate doctor who disconnected respirator of Italian right-to-die activist

An Italian medical board said Thursday it has opened an investigation into the doctor who disconnected the respirator of a paralyzed man, granting his wish to be allowed to die.
A disciplinary commission will decide whether to bring a case against Dr. Mario Riccio, who last week assisted the death of writer Piergiorgio Welby, a 60-year-old with muscular dystrophy who was at the center of a right-to-die campaign in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.
Sanctions against Riccio could go from a warning to expulsion, a measure that would bar him from the profession, said officials at the board of physicians in the northern Italian city of Cremona, where the anesthesiologist is based.
Board President Mario Bianchi questioned Riccio until late Wednesday before announcing he would put the case to the board's disciplinary commission.
"I agree with the decision. If I were him I would have done the same thing," Riccio told The Associated Press by telephone, saying that the high-profile character of the case justified an investigation.
Riccio and Welby's family have described the decision to pull the plug as a suspension of therapy, saying it conformed to a patient's constitutional right to refuse treatment. Anti-euthanasia campaigners and some conservative politicians have described Welby's death as murder.
Euthanasia is illegal in Italy, and the Vatican, which wields influence over the country's political and social life, staunchly opposes the practice. Welby was mourned Sunday at a lay funeral in Rome after Church officials denied him a religious ceremony.
Rome prosecutors have begun investigating the causes of Welby's death and have briefly questioned Riccio as a witness, but so far no one has been accused or named as a suspect in the case.


Updated : 2021-04-13 10:13 GMT+08:00