European Parliament President David Sassoli died at a hospital in Aviano, Italy on Jan. 11 at the age of 65, his spokesperson Roberto Cuillo announced.
Sassoli had been hospitalized multiple times, most recently on Dec. 26 due to a serious complication caused by a dysfunction of his immune system.
Sassoli, an Italian center-left politician, was also hospitalized in September for pneumonia.
Sassoli’s death came a week before the Parliament is due to elect his successor in Strasbourg.
“I am heartbroken. Europe has lost a leader. I have lost a friend. Democracy has lost a champion. David Sassoli dedicated his life to making the world a better, fairer place,” European Parliament First Vice President Roberta Metsola said on Twitter.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described Sassoli as “a passionate European, a sincere democrat, and a good man.”
“David Sassoli was a man of deep faith and strong convictions. In the European Parliament, he constantly defended our Union and its values,” von der Leyen said.
Sassoli, a former journalist, became the president of the 705-seat parliament in 2019.
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