David Sassoli, the president of the European parliament, has died at the age of 65, his spokesman has announced.
Sassoli died at 1.15am in Aviano, Italy, where he has been in hospital since 26 December due to abnormal functioning of his immune system, according to Roberto Cuillo.
Sassoli came down with severe pneumonia in September during a plenary session of the parliament and had to be hospitalised. He returned to Italy to recover but had a relapse that kept him away from his duties for a while before he resumed his activities in November.
A vote to appoint a new president had already been planned this month, and Sassoli, a Socialist member of the EU parliament, had decided not to run for re-election.
A former journalist, Sassoli was first elected to the European parliament in 2009. He won another term in 2014 and served as the parliament’s vice-president.
With Agence France-Presse
This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.