|Author (Person)||Shelley, John|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol 7, No.18, 3.5.01, p3|
DOCTORS have warned former European Commissioner Emma Bonino that she could die if she continues a hunger strike in protest at the treatment of her party by the Italian media.
Bonino, who was responsible for fisheries, humanitarian aid and consumer affairs for the EU executive until 1999, has been refusing to take food or water since Saturday evening.
Now an MEP, Bonino was on the fifth day of her protest yesterday (2 May) in San Paolo hospital in Milan. She is said to be losing a kilo a day.
Italian Health Minister Umberto Veronesi, also a doctor, visited the 53-year-old this week and warned that by refusing to drink she was risking a heart attack or stroke. But Radical Party MEPs, who were elected to the European Parliament under the "Lista Bonino", are backing their leader's actions.
"She's a very clever woman who knows what she's doing. Of course we are very concerned, of course we are anxious," said Olivier Dupuis. "We don't want her to die, but she knows very well what she's fighting for and the importance of it for all Italians."
Bonino has accused the media of focusing all its coverage in the build-up to the 13 May election on rows between the two front-runners for prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi and Francesco Rutelli, also both MEPs.
She says they are ignoring the issues and views of her own Radical Party, which wants greater freedom for scientific research and the relaxation of Italy's euthanasia laws.
Some observers believe the hunger strike is nothing more than an elaborate publicity stunt designed to win votes. During her days in the Commission, Bonino was well known as having a keen eye for grabbing the media's attention.
She was once famously winched onto the deck of a trawler in the Atlantic, while the world's media watched on, during the EU's short-lived halibut war with Canada.
She was also briefly taken hostage by Taliban militia in Afghanistan after taking a CNN news crew into a hospital and filming women - illegal under hard-line Islamic law.
Although Italian commentators believe Bonino will call off the hunger strike soon, doctors fear she could do herself permanent harm.
Doctors have warned former European Commissioner Emma Bonino that she could die if she continues a hunger strike in protest at the treatment of her party by the Italian media.
|Countries / Regions||Italy|