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ROME (AP) — An Italian court has granted a man’s request to disconnect the feeding tube of his daughter, who has been in a vegetative state for 16 years.

The case of Eluana Englaro has drawn comparisons in Italy with that of Terry Schiavo, the American woman who was at the centre of a right-to-die debate until her death in 2005.

Englaro was 20 years old when she went into a vegetative state following a car accident in 1992.

Two years later, doctors called her condition irreversible. She has been kept in a hospital and fed artificially in the northern city of Lecco.

Her father sought for more than 10 years to have her feeding tube removed, insisting this was her wish.

Now, an appeals court in Milan has granted his appeal, on the grounds that the vegetative state was irreversible and that her father was trying to conform to her will.

"She simply wanted to be left to die, she wanted nature to take its course," the woman’s father, Beppino Englaro, told the online TV of Italian daily La Repubblica on Wednesday.

"Now I can set free the most splendid person I’ve known."

He said that coincidentally his daughter had visited a friend who was in a similar condition shortly before her accident. On that occasion, she expressed the will to refuse treatment, should she find herself in that condition.

Italy doesn’t allow euthanasia, but patients have a right to refuse treatment.

State prosecutors can appeal Wednesday’s ruling to Italy’s highest court within 60 days.

The ruling immediately drew criticism from the Vatican, which is opposed to euthanasia and says life must be defended from conception to natural death.

That would have been her natural death you Vatican Morons! Jezz I can't stand how skewed their perspective is when it comes to natural death.

The fact that it was her known wish not to be put in that situation, only for her to be put through it regardless for 16 years, is just plain sick.