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Home Breaking News David Sassoli EU Parliament president dies, burial Friday

David Sassoli EU Parliament president dies, burial Friday

David Sassoli, an Italian journalist who worked his way up in politics while defending the downtrodden and oppressed to become president of the European Union’s parliament, has died in an Italian hospital.

He died Tuesday at 65.

European Council President Charles Michel called Sassoli a “sincere and passionate European. We already miss his human warmth, his generosity, his friendliness and his smile.”

Sassoli, a socialist, had been hospitalized since Dec. 26 because of abnormal functioning of his immune system, his spokesman Roberto Cuillo said.

Sassoli will be buried Friday at Rome’s Santa Maria degli Angeli, the church where state funerals are held.

Sassoli had been struggling for months with poor health after he suffered pneumonia caused by the legionella bacteria in September.

His health steadily declined afterward and he was forced to miss several important legislative meetings.

Yet, as much as possible, he stayed on the job, where his vigour and easy smile had always been a trademark. He was at his strongest when he took up the cause of migrants who died crossing the Mediterranean or dissidents such as Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is taking on the Kremlin from a jail cell.

“Everyone loved his smile and his kindness, yet he knew how to fight for what he believed in,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, reminiscing how Sassoli had traveled to Germany to see the infamous Berlin Wall come down well over three decades ago.

European unity was his benchmark, just as much as justice among all Europeans was.

“Our union has lost at the same time an Italian patriot, a great European and a tireless humanist,” French President Emmanuel Macron said.

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