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Italy prosecutors probing death of man who sought euthanasia

[JURIST] Italian prosecutors have begun an investigation into the death of Piergiorgio Welby [profile, in Italian], a man who suffered from muscular dystrophy and sought the right to die by euthanasia. Welby's quest to die became a nation-wide debate after Italy's Radical Party [party website] took up Welby's cause. Welby passed away Wednesday, three months after pleading [recorded video appeal] with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano [BBC profile] to be allowed to die.

Though an autopsy has not been performed yet, some politicians have already labeled Welby's death a murder. Italian law gives people a constitutional right to refuse medical treatment, which was most recently recognized [BBC report] last weekend in a 15-page ruling by Judge Antonio Salvio but the constitution [text, in English] contradicts the Italian medical code, which requires doctors to keep patients alive. The Rome judge said no Italian law can require a doctor to take affirmative measures to end a patient's life, and urged legislators to remedy the contradiction in the constitution and the medical code. AP has more.

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