ROME, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- An Italian judge has rejected a request by a terminally ill man to let doctors turn off his life-support machine, saying the case was beyond his jurisdiction.
Judge Antonio Salvio in Rome concluded Piergiorgio Welby's right to have his respirator removed was not "concretely safeguarded" by Italian law.
Welby, 60, is confined to bed with muscular dystrophy, is fed through a tube and speaks through a computer that reads his eye movements.
He appealed to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in October for euthanasia in the Roman Catholic country to be legalized so that he could then request it, The Sunday Telegraph said.
Salvio's ruling conceded Welby was among patients suffering "loneliness and despair" because of his condition.
Euthanasia supporters staged pro-Welby vigils in 50 Italian cities Saturday, the newspaper said.
"This is a Pontius Pilate verdict, sacrificing the right of those who want to legally put an end to their suffering," said Silvio Viale. Viale is a doctor and a member of the Rose in the Fist party, part of Prime Minister Romano Prodi's center-left government.
Welby, who has been ill for 40 years but has seen his condition worsen recently, can appeal the ruling.