Death of paralysed man reignites euthanasia debate

8th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

8 May 2006, VALLADOLID — Spanish police are investigating the death of a pentaplegic who spent months on the Internet seeking the help he needed to "die with dignity".

8 May 2006

VALLADOLID — Spanish police are investigating the death of a pentaplegic who spent months on the Internet seeking the help he needed to "die with dignity".

The body of Jorge Leon Escudero, 53, was found without signs of violence and disconnected from the automatic respirator that had kept him alive at his home in the central Spanish city of Valladolid.

The case has reawakened the debate in Spain which first started two years ago with the release of an Oscar-winning film about the death another disabled man, Ramon Sampedro, in 1998.

Sampedro had campaigned through the courts to be allowed to die.

The Sea Inside made Sampedro's death a cause celebre in Spain, with the prime minister and cabinet ministers going to see the film.

After the death of Leon, a police spokesman said: "The case is very delicate because we are talking about a pentaplegic who died from having the machine that kept him alive disconnected, and it may spark another social debate like the one following the death of Ramon Sampedro."

Jorge Leon, who could only move his lips after a household accident six years ago left him confined to a wheelchair, had expressed on many occasions his wish to die, for which he sought help by means of a virtual diary on the Internet in which he used a fictitious name.

Faced with the possibility that this might be a death from unnatural causes, a Valladolid judge has opened a secret inquiry into the legal proceedings while police investigate the circumstances surrounding the death.

In January 2005, the Spanish daily El Pais published a letter to the editor signed by Jorge Leon Escudero entitled "Let's talk about euthanasia" in which he referred to the subject as something that "has stopped being just an ethical question contemplated by a minority but has become an urgent problem for a constantly increasing number of people".

Ramon Sampedro, whose battle inspired Alejandro Amenabar's award-winning film The Sea Inside was the first Spaniard to bring a legal case to be granted the right to euthanasia, and his long fight through the courts changed many people's mind on the subject as he struggled for death with dignity.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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