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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Bonino halts hunger strike
The Italian politician and former European Commissioner Emma Bonino has stopped her hunger strike after doctors said she was in danger of permanently damaging her health.
Ms Bonino, one of the leaders of the small Radical Party (PR) began refusing all food and liquids on Friday in protest at what she says is unfair media coverage of her party.
Italians go to the polls in elections on 13 May, but Ms Bonino claims the media has been sown up by the two main candidates - the right-wind media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi and the left-wing Francesco Rutelli.
She claims that her party is being deliberately excluded from media coverage.
Threat to continue
Ms Bonino is now undergoing rehydration treatment at a hospital in Milan, where she was admitted on Tuesday night when doctors began to fear for her health.
"I reasonably think she is out of danger if treatment is immediately begun," said Danilo Gariboldi, the health director of San Paolo Hospital.
During her strike, Ms Bonino's only sustenance was between 20 and 30 cigarettes a day.
In a statement Ms Bonino said she would restart her strike if she felt that the unfair media coverage continued.
Ms Bonino says that debate on issues such as the right to scientific research on embryos, the morning after pill, or the relationship between the Italian state and the Vatican were being deliberately shunned by Italy's political forces.
"The basic issues of life and death are simply excluded," she told the BBC.
"No-one wants to have the Vatican against them, especially in this election," she added.
Another party leader, Luca Coscioni, joined the protest, deciding to reduce the medication he is taking for multiple sclerosis, which doctors consider necessary for his survival.
Elsewhere, more than 250 people who back the party have followed suit, joining the action either by hunger strike or by refusing medication.