The case of Marco Cappato, from the trial to the Italian Constitutional Court’s sentence

The case of Marco Cappato, the politician and activist of the Luca Coscioni association accused (based on the article 580 of the Italian Penal Code) of having helped Fabiano Antoniani to commit suicide, has long been at the center of the Italian debate. The process opened almost two years ago, on November 8th, 2017, and underwent a new turning point last September.

The Luca Coscioni association summarised the trial on its website. The English version is available here.

On September 25th, the Italian Constitutional Court ruled that facilitating “the execution of a patient’s suicide intention, independently and freely formed” is not punishable under the article 580 of the Italian Penal Code (which equates assistance and instigation to suicide). Under certain conditions: the patient must be “kept alive by life support treatments”, must be “suffering from an irreversible pathology, source of physical or psychological suffering that he/she considers intolerable” and must be “fully capable of making free and aware decisions”.

Therefore, in Italy it will be possible to help a person to die without risking ending up in prison, if the above-mentioned conditions verify. The verification of these conditions will rest exclusively with public health facilities. It remains a crime to help a person to die in all other circumstances.

This is a single sentence on a single case: for this reason the Court has asked the Italian Parliament to intervene by legislating. Until then, the judges will have to decide on a case-by-case basis.

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