Italian prosecutors have cleared of wrongdoing a doctor who switched off the life support machine of a terminally ill patient who had asked to die. The anaesthetist Mario Riccio removed the respirator of Piergiorgio Welby, who had muscular dystrophy, in December to end a life that the paralysed patient had repeatedly described as torture.
Supporters have called Dr Riccio a hero for ignoring a court ruling that rejected Mr Welby's high profile request to have his respirator removed. Opponents said that Dr Riccio was a criminal who should go to jail. The Roman Catholic church has gone as far as to deny Mr Welby a Catholic funeral (www.reuters.com).