By Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

MILAN, January 6, 2008 ( – A petition has been presented to the Appeals Court of Milan to re-open the case of Eluana Englaro, the disabled young woman that the court agreed could be killed by dehydration.

Epidemiologist and writer Paul Gilusano and Dr. Piero Pirovano, a journalist and president of the group Solidarity, Freedom, Justice and Peace, have asked the court to revoke its decree. They are arguing that Eluana’s case was decided without any medical determination of her condition, but on the word of her father, Beppino Englaro, alone.

The Englaro case has been front-page news in Italy since the Court of Cassation in Rome, Italy’s highest appeals court, ruled in November that the decision by the Milan Appeals Court could be upheld.

Eluana Englaro, now 38, suffered a car accident in January 1992 and has since then been in a state of diminished consciousness. Her father has requested the right to end his daughter’s life and has pursued the case through the Italian courts.

Despite claims that Eluana is in a “persistent vegetative state,” her exact condition was not determined by a medical examination in court. Moreover, although the media has spoken of her father’s desire to “switch off her life support system,” Eluana is not on a respirator and requires only food and water and ordinary nursing care. 

Gilusano told journalist Bruno Volpe his reason for the intervention at the Milan Court: “The view of the father of Eluana has been upheld by the courts as gold standard. In short, this man … told the magistrates, ‘My daughter is a plant,’ and they believed him on the floor, with no means of investigation.”

Gilusano admitted that it is possible the court will reject the application, but he said that even if it fails the effort is worthwhile.

“We want to send a message to the various nursing homes and regions,” he said. “‘Do not ever accept passively the death of Eluana, we must defend life and we are also prepared to sue anyone for murder, doctor, or even relative, guardian or who may be responsible the death of Eluana.’”

See related coverage:

European Court Refuses to Intevene to Save Italian “Terri Schiavo”

Italian Government Must Act Fast to Define Food and Hydration as a Human Right to Save Eluana: Prominent Italian Lawyer

It is “Illegal” to Stop Food and Hydration of Vulnerable Patients: Top Italian Minister


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