An Italian medical board today cleared a doctor who disconnected the respirator of a paralysed man who had sought to die, in the latest development of a case that split Italy.
In December, Dr Mario Riccio assisted in the death of Piergiorgio Welby, a 60-year-old writer with muscular dystrophy who was at the centre of a right-to-die campaign in the Roman Catholic nation.
The medical board in Cremona, a northern Italian city where Riccio is based, opened an investigation shortly afterward to decide whether or not to bring a case against the doctor and referred the question to its disciplinary commission.
“I’m very relieved,” Riccio said.
The doctor said he was especially satisfied because the board had “confirmed the right of patients to refuse treatment”.
Welby’s wife, Mina, told the ANSA new agency that she welcomed the decision because the doctor only “helped Piergiorgio have a serene death”.
Riccio faced sanctions ranging from a warning to expulsion, a measure that would bar him from the medical profession.
Board president Mario Bianchi said Riccio’s behaviour had been “impeccable” and that the board had taken its decision unanimously, according to ANSA.