Italy grants citizenship to terminally-ill British toddler

Supporters react to the announcement that the European court of human rights refused to intervene in the case of British toddler Alfie Evans outside Alder Hey childrens hospital in Liverpool, on April 23, 2018. PHOTOS: AFP

ROME (AFP) - Italy granted citizenship to terminally-ill British toddler Alfie Evans on Monday (April 23), in a bid to facilitate his transfer to a hospital in Rome after the British Supreme Court upheld a ruling to turn off his life support.

The 23-month-old child has been in a coma for over a year and needs a ventilator to keep him breathing due to a rare degenerative neurological condition.

His parents want to take their son to be treated at the paediatric Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, which is administered by the Vatican.

"Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Interior Minister Marco Minniti have granted citizenship to little Alfie. The Italian government hopes that being Italian will allow the immediate transfer of the child to Italy," said a statement from the Foreign Affairs Ministry.

On Monday, the director of Bambino Gesu, Mariella Enoc, and an anaesthetist went to the Alder Hey hospital where Alfie is being treated in Liverpool, northwest England, but the establishment's management did not want to meet with them, Italian agency AGI reported.

The case has drawn the support of Pope Francis who has on two occasions called for the toddler's life to be prolonged.

But last week, Alfie's parents lost a last-ditch legal bid in Britain to keep their son alive.

Tom Evans and Kate James had made an application to the Supreme Court to have the case re-examined after exhausting all other legal appeals for Alfie.

Evans' parents wanted the European Court of Human Rights to examine issues surrounding the case, but ECHR judges rejected their bid.

The toddler has been hospitalised continuously since December 2016, suffering from chronic seizures.

On Monday, around 200 protesters gathered outside the hospital shouting, "Save Alfie Evans." A large group then attempted to storm the entrance before being blocked by police.

Join ST's Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.