David Sassoli, the president of the European parliament, has died at the age of 65 according to his spokesperson.
Sassoli had been seriously ill in hospital in Italy for more than two weeks due to serious complications with his immune system. The Italian socialist and former journalist died this morning his spokesperson Roberto Cullio confirmed on Twitter.
“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,” wrote Cuillo.
Sassoli had been president of the 705-seat parliament since July 2019. His term was due to end later this month, with MEPs expected to hold the first round of voting for his successor next week.
President of the European Commission Ursula van der Leyen paid tribute to Sassoli on Twitter. “David Sassoli was a compassionate journalist, an outstanding President of the European Parliament and, first & foremost, a dear friend,” she wrote.
Sassoli became a household name after joining Italian state broadcaster RAI as a news reader. He began pursuing a career in politics in 2009 after joining the centre-left Democratic Party and winning election to the European Parliament.
He was hospitalised with pneumonia in September 2021, damaging his health and forcing him to spend several weeks in hospital.