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Berlusconi says coma death woman was killed

ITALIAN Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Eluana Englaro, who died in the middle of a debate about her right to die after 17 years in a coma, had been killed and the head of state was among those responsible.

"Eluana did not die a natural death, she was killed," the premier told Libero newspaper, blaming President Giorgio Napolitano for rejecting an emergency decree that would have forced doctors to resume feeding her.

"Napolitano made a serious mistake," another paper quoted Berlusconi as saying. The premier lamented that the bill he then sent to parliament to stop Eluana's nutrition from being suspended "did not make it in time."

Englaro, who had been in a coma since a car crash in 1992, was "the only citizen to be condemned to death," he said. The newspaper l'Unita had a black front page with the words "In Pace" ?? "in peace" yesterday.

The flag flew at half-mast over the Senate, which had been discussing Berlusconi's bill to stop the 38-year-old woman's father and doctors from suspending her nutrition when she passed away suddenly at a clinic in the northern town of Udine on Monday.

Doctors stopped feeding her last Friday at her family's request in line with a ruling by Italy's top court. Berlusconi said this amounted to euthanasia, which is illegal in Italy.

"You cannot let someone die of hunger and thirst," said Berlusconi's ally Umberto Bossi, head of the Northern League. "It is something primitive, inhuman, unacceptable."

Outside the clinic where Englaro died, people prayed and sang through the night, holding candles.

Her father, who battled for 10 years to have her feeding tube disconnected, saying it was her wish not to be kept alive artificially, simply said: "I just want to be alone."

Some ordinary Italians, who had followed the case closely for years, expressed relief.

"I am happy her suffering is over, after reaching a point where there was just nothing to be done," said Rome resident Laura Lichieri.


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