French prosecutor drops euthanasia case

2nd January 2006, Comments 0 comments

LILLE, Jan 2 (AFP) - A French prosecutor on Monday said he had dropped charges against the mother and doctor of a quadriplegic young man who helped him to die in 2003, and called for their acquittal.

LILLE, Jan 2 (AFP) - A French prosecutor on Monday said he had dropped charges against the mother and doctor of a quadriplegic young man who helped him to die in 2003, and called for their acquittal.

Vincent Humbert, a 22-year-old fireman, was left blind, mute and paralysed after a car crash in 2000.

His mother Marie, who had campaigned in vain with her son for his right to die, administered him an overdose of sedatives, after which he lapsed into a coma.

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

Chaussoy 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.

State prosecutor Gerald Lesigne said he had decided to drop charges against them after considering the "moral aspects of the offence, not its material and legal aspects".

He argued that both doctor and mother had been under considerable pressure from Vincent himself and the media attention surrounding the case, and that they had therefore acted "under constraint".

The court in the northern town of Boulogne-sur-Mer must now rule on whether to acquit the pair.

Chaussoy welcomed the "excellent" news of the prosecutor's decision, but insisted he had no regrets over helping Vincent to die.

Marie Humbert, though welcoming the prospect of Chaussoy's acquittal, accused the legal system of trying to "get shot of the issue", and of failing to tackle the question of mercy killings head-on.

She said the trial would have allowed a "debate, so that everyone realises the need to change the law" on euthanasia.

The French parliament last year adopted a law granting terminally ill patients the "right to die" by allowing them to put a stop to medical treatment, although it did not legalise mercy killing.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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