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EU Parliament President David Sassoli dies after being hospitalized

EU Parliament President David Sassoli dies after being hospitalized
European Parliament President David Sassoli died early Tuesday after being hospitalized in Italy due to a dysfunction with his immune system on Dec. 26. Photo by Olivier Hoslet/EPA-EFE

Jan. 10 (UPI) -- The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, died early Tuesday after being hospitalized late last month due to a "serious complication" caused by a dysfunction of his immune system, his spokesman said. He was 65 years old.

Sassoli died at 1:15 a.m. at the Centro di Riferimento in Aviano, Italy, his spokesman Roberto Cuillo said on social media. The cause of death was not made public.

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"The date and place of the funeral will be communicated in the next few hours," he said.

The announcement of Sassoli's death came less than a day after Cuillo said in a statement that the president had been hospitalized in Italy since Dec. 26 and that all of his duties had been canceled.

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"This hospitalization was necessary because of a serious complication due to a dysfunction of the immune system," he said.

His death occurred only a few short months after he was admitted to a hospital in Strasbourg, France, in mid-September for severe pneumonia.

"What a big shock and a big loss," Ismail Ertug, a German member of the European Parliament, said in a tweet. " I am deeply saddened. He left us too early. My condolences to his family! Dear David, Rest In Peace!"

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The Florence, Italy, native had a career as a high-profile journalist and TV anchor before he turned to politics in 2009 when he was elected as a member of the European Parliament for central Italy with the center-left Democratic Party, according to his biography.

In 2014, he was re-elected to the parliament as well as elected as its vice president with focus on the budge and the mediterranean region.

However, it was in July 2019 during his third term that he was elected president of the European Parliament to oversee its 705 elected members.

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Earlier Monday after the announcement of his hospitalization, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, had tweeted about Sassoli's health, wishing him a speedy recovery.

"Dear David, my thoughts are with you as you fight for your health," she said. "Bon courage, as you often say."

This is a developing story.

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