Panella accepts intravenous rehydration

Politician, 82, on hunger-thirst strike over prison overcrowding

Panella accepts intravenous rehydration

Rome, December 19 - Marco Pannella, the historic leader of Italy's Radical Party, on Wednesday agreed to allow doctors to give him intravenous rehydration therapy after a nine-day thirst-and-hunger strike that has put his life in danger. Pannella, 82, started the strike to call for an amnesty to stop chronic overcrowding in Italy's jails, and for prisoners be given the right to vote. Italian Premier Mario Monti visited Pannella Tuesday and tried to persuade him to end the protest after doctors at the Rome clinic he is staying at said he risked kidney failure and cardiovascular problems. "Let's see if we can save this (my) life in order to save those of thousands of people who suffer an illegal situation in prison," Pannella said in a video message. "It's not a question of pity, but of justice," he added in an interview with La Repubblica. Pannella has accepted the therapy but he has not resumed drinking and doctors said the situation was still worrying. "We have just started the intravenous therapy with a solution of water and sugar," said Professor Claudio Santini. "We'll see what the results of this therapy are. They can't be taken for granted. "We'll have to see if diuresis resumes and, therefore, kidney functioning recovers with the therapy". Justice Minister Paola Severino praised Pannella's courage. "We need Marco Pannella alive and the strong ideals he has fought for all his life," she told Italian radio. "I'd like to combat by his side, albeit with different means. I consider Pannella to be a heroic person because he sacrifices himself for an important cause. "We have a common aim - to make prisons a humane place so that making people serve their punishment does not mean taking away their dignity and hope". Pannella has staged a number of thirst-and-hunger strikes in the past to protest about a variety of issues.

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