David Sassoli, the president of the European parliament, has died at the age of 65, his spokesman has said.
The 65-year-old Italian had been seriously ill in hospital for more than two weeks due to a dysfunction of his immune system.
“David Sassoli passed away at 1.15am on 11 January at the CRO in Aviano, Italy, where he was hospitalized,” his spokesman Roberto Cuillo tweeted. “The date and place of the funeral will be communicated in the next few hours.”
The former television newsreader had been in hospital since 26 December due to “a serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system”, Cuillo had said on Monday, announcing the cancellation of Sassoli’s official activities.
Sassoli was previously admitted with pneumonia for several weeks in September last year.
After a three-decade career as an Italian journalist, starting out in newspapers then moving to television and becoming a nationally known anchor, Florence-born Sassoli became a member of the European Parliament in 2009, and speaker in 2019.
He was a member of the centre-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, the second-biggest grouping in the parliament after the centre-right European People’s party.
Although his role was that of speaker, he had the title of president of the European legislature. His arrival in the chamber was traditionally announced in Italian as “Il Presidente”.
Unlike some EU officials, who speak in English and French in public appearances, Sassoli had made a point of using Italian.
On Tuesday next week, MEPs are expected to hold the first round of voting for his successor.