Court battle

Earlier, Pope Benedict XVI said euthanasia was a "false solution" to suffering.

Englaro, who has been kept in a vegetative state since a car accident 17 years ago, will have her feeding tubes removed this week, Italian doctors said.

Last year, Italy's highest court ruled that she be allowed to die, after a 10-year court battle by Beppino Englaro, the woman's father

A private facility in the north-eastern town of Udine accepted Englaro, after the government ruled last month that state hospitals must guarantee care for people in vegetative states.

Englaro's father said her transfer to the clinic was "the first step... towards the liberation of my daughter. It seems we have finally succeeded".

Doctors at the clinic said on Tuesday that Englaro's feeding tubes would be removed on Friday, and that she would be sedated to avoid her feeling any pain.

Maurizio Sacconi, Italy's welfare minister, said the government was investigating the latest development.

By law, Italy does not allow euthanasia.

Patients have a right to refuse treatment, but there is no law that allows them to state what treatment they would wish to receive if they lose consciousness.