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Watch: Italy, EU bid farewell to European Parliament president David Sassoli

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By Euronews
The coffin of late EU Parliament President David Sassoli arrives for the state funerals at Santa Maria degli Angeli Basilica in Rome, Jan. 14, 2022.
The coffin of late EU Parliament President David Sassoli arrives for the state funerals at Santa Maria degli Angeli Basilica in Rome, Jan. 14, 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia

European Union and Italian officials bid farewell to David Sassoli, the former president of the European Parliament during his state funeral on Friday.

A guard of honour accompanied Sassoli's coffin, draped in the EU flag, as it arrived at Rome's Santa Maria degli Angeli, the church where Italian state funerals are held..

Sassoli died on Tuesday at the age of 65. He had been struggling with ill health for months following a bout of pneumonia in September and had been hospitalised since late December because of abnormal functioning of his immune system.

Bologna Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, a friend of Sassoli's, said in a homily: “For him, politics had to be for the common good. That's why he wanted a united Europe, with its founding values, and he worked so that its institutions functioned well."

"Not ideologies, but ideals, not calculations but a vision,'' said the cardinal.

Sassoli's daughter Livia quoted from her father's Christmas season message in his EU parliament role that he had issued a few days before his final hospitalisation.

In that message, the EU parliament's president had decried that Europe's “borders in some cases had become borders between that which is moral and that which is immoral, between humanity and lack of humanity.” Sassoli in those words didn't criticise specific situations or policies, but his reference to European attitudes to migrants was apparent.

His son, Giulio Sassoli, described his father as a person with “strong ideas and gentle ways.

The funeral service was attended by Italy's President, Sergio Mattarella, and Prime Minister, Mario Draghi.

The highest office-holders from EU institutions were also present to pay their respect including Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Council president Charles Michel and acting-president of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola.

Other dignitaries at the funeral included French Prime Minister Jean Castex and his Spanish counterpart Pedro Sanchez.

Mattarella and Draghi were among the many mourners who attended a ceremony with Sassoli's family on Thursday as his coffin lay in state.