Page last updated at 20:30 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Italy man wins life support plea

Reaction to the decision in Italy

Italy's top court has awarded a man the right to disconnect the feeding tube that has kept his comatose daughter alive for 16 years.

Eluana Englaro, 37, has been in a coma since a car crash in 1992.

The court ruled that a July decision allowing Beppino Englaro to remove her life support would stand.

Catholic politicians and the Vatican are opposing the move, saying that it amounts to euthanasia - which is illegal in Italy.

US parallels

Eluana Englaro is being kept alive at a hospital in the northern town of Lecco. Her father has been battling with the courts to end her life since 1999.

The court in Milan which delivered the July ruling said that doctors had proved Ms Englaro's coma was irreversible.

It also accepted that, before the accident, she had expressed a preference for dying over being kept alive artificially.

State prosecutors appealed against the ruling, but Cassation Court in Rome ruled the challenge inadmissible.

Campaigners for euthanasia welcomed the verdict, but some Italian lawmakers said the move amounted to murder.

Ms Englaro's case has been compared to that of brain-damaged Florida woman Terri Schiavo.

She died in 2005 after her feeding tube was removed, following a seven-year legal battle between her husband and her parents.

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