Court acquits doctor, mother in euthanasia case

27th February 2006, Comments 0 comments

LILLE, France, Feb 27, 2006 (AFP) - A French judge has acquitted the doctor and mother of a quadriplegic man they helped to die in a euthanasia case that highlighted the dilemma between the legal and moral implications of mercy killings.

LILLE, France, Feb 27, 2006 (AFP) - A French judge has acquitted the doctor and mother of a quadriplegic man they helped to die in a euthanasia case that highlighted the dilemma between the legal and moral implications of mercy killings.

Charges against Doctor Frederic Chaussoy and Marie Humbert of voluntarily poisoning 22-year-old Vincent Humbert at his request in 2003 were dismissed by judge Anne Morvant on a recommendation by state prosecutors, the head prosecutor in the trial, Gerald Lesigne, told AFP.

The case of Vincent Humbert riveted and touched France when it was revealed, with many in the country expressing sympathy with Marie Humbert for making the tough decision to help her son end his life.

Vincent Humbert, a former fireman, had been left blind, mute and paralysed after a car crash in 2000.

His mother, after campaigning in vain for her son to have a right to die, finally administered an overdose of sedatives herself, after which he lapsed into a coma.

Chaussoy two days later injected Vincent with a lethal dose of drugs and switched off his life support system.

Lesigne in January had called for the charges to be dropped against the two on the basis of the "moral aspects of the offence". He said the pressure from Vincent himself and from the media had given rise to extenuating circumstances.

Chaussoy had faced a possible life sentence for poisoning with premeditation, while Marie Humbert had been charged with administering her son with toxic substances, and faced up to five years' imprisonment.

Euthanasia is illegal in France, although a new law was adopted last year which allows patients to put a stop to medical treatment for terminal conditions.

Chaussoy and Marie Humbert had both welcomed Lesigne's recommendation of acquittal, but the latter also accused the French legal system of trying to get rid of the case without addressing its core question of whether mercy killing should be decriminalised.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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