Dutch court jails euthanasia group chairman for aiding suicide

30th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

A Dutch court sentenced the chairman of an assisted suicide lobby group Friday to 10 months in jail, eight suspended, for helping a sick, 80-year-old woman kill herself.

THE HAGUE - A Dutch court sentenced the chairman of an assisted suicide lobby group Friday to 10 months in jail, eight suspended, for helping a sick, 80-year-old woman kill herself.

The woman died in November 2007 after taking a lethal dose of pentobarbital, which prosecutors said was supplied to her children by the lobbyist after doctors refused to help her.

Her children helped administer the drug, but were not charged.

The lobbyist, who is not named in court documents, was found guilty of having contravened Dutch euthanasia rules, which determine that only a doctor may perform such acts.

Earlier, a group of commissions monitoring euthanasia in the Netherlands said 200 more people died in this manner last year than in 2007.

Doctors had reported that a total of 2,146 people were euthanised and 152 died in assisted suicides in 2008, while in 33 cases there was a combination of the two practices.

Assisted suicide involves the patient actively taking the last step leading to their death, while euthanasia is done by another person.

This was a total of 2,331 cases -- a 9.95 percent increase on 2,120 in 2007.

"In the majority of cases, people suffered from cancer," said a statement. Most died at home.

In 10 cases there were suspected contraventions of the Dutch euthanasia law that came into force in 2002, said a statement. These were referred to investigators.

Euthanasia is allowed in the Netherlands only if the patient suffers intolerable pain due to an illness diagnosed as incurable by a doctor. The patient must give authorisation while in full control of his mental faculties.

Each euthanasia case is reported to one of five special commissions, each made up of a doctor, a jurist and an ethical expert.

AFP / Expatica

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