Two-year-old Alfie Evans suffers from an unidentified degenerative neurological condition and has been under continuous hospitalization since December 2016.
On Monday the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) refused to intervene in what has been a highly sensitive and complicated case, paving the way for Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where Evans has been receiving care, to shut off the infant’s life support.
Crowds of protesters lined the streets in front of the hospital Monday as they waited for the ruling, while Evans sent intermittent Facebook live posts from inside the hospital.
According to the BBC, some 200 protesters attempted to storm the hospital at one point, but were stopped by police, and backed off to the opposite side of the road.
In the meantime, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano and Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti granted citizenship to Evans, in hopes that being an Italian citizen will allow the child to be transferred to Italy immediately.
The decision comes less than one week after Alfie’s father went to the Vatican to make a personal appeal to Pope Francis on his son’s behalf. In a private audience with the pope before his Wednesday general audience April 18, Evans pled for asylum in Italy for his family, so that Alfie can be moved to the Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome to receive treatment.
The pope also recently tweeted about Alfie, saying it was his “sincere hope that everything necessary may be done in order to continue compassionately accompanying little Alfie Evans, and that the deep suffering of his parents may be heard.”
Debate surrounding the case flared up in February when the court ruled that Alder Hey Children’s Hospital could legally stop treatment for Alfie against his parent’s wishes. The hospital has argued that continuing treatment is not in his best interest.
Despite Tom and Kate’s desire to take their son to Bambino Gesu hospital in Rome, several judges ruled in the hospital’s favor. The case has since drawn international attention.