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European Parliament President David Sassoli dies after hospitalization

The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli has died, his office announced early on Tuesday morning.

He passed away after a "serious complication" related to his immune system.

"The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, passed away at 1.15 a.m. on January 11 at the hospital in Aviano, Italy," his spokesman, Roberto Cuillo said on Twitter.

"The date and place of the funeral will be communicated in the next few hours," he added.

On Monday, the EU parliament confirmed he had been admitted to hospital in Italy on December 26.

In September 2021, during a plenary session of the parliament, the 65-year-old came down with a bad case of pneumonia.

He was married with two children.

Tributes to David Sassoli

Tributes soon poured in for Sassoli, an Italian social democrat.

President of the Euopean Commission Ursula von der Leyen said she was "deeply saddened by the terrible loss of a great European and proud Italian." In a post on Twitter, she described Sassoli as a "compassionate jounralist, an outsranding President of the European Parliament and a dear friend."

"What a big shock and a big loss. I am deeply saddened. He left us too early. My condolences to his family! Dear David, Rest In Peace," tweeted German MEP Ismail Ertug.

Another MEP, Italian Paolo Borchia, said he was "stunned" by the news as it was so "sudden."

A former journalist, Sassoli was first elected as a member of the European Parliament in 2009. He won another term in 2014 and served as the Parliament's vice-president.

He then became president of the 705-seat legislature in 2019.

The parliament sits for a five-year term between elections, but the president of the body serves for half that time, and Sassoli had indicated he would not seek reelection.

jsi/aw (EFE, dpa, AFP, Reuters)