Govt rules group Dignitas’ actions legal
15 May 2008
ZURICH – The assisted suicide group Dignitas in Switzerland was told Thursday it had done nothing illegal and would not face further action. The canton of Zurich was responding to calls for it to be banned by politicians.
The cantonal government said in a statement that the group had not stepped outside the law but simply exploited "the legal margin at its disposition," adding: "There is no reason to open a lengthy legal procedure."
The latest outcry against Dignitas, which operates in Zurich, followed revelations in March the group was suffocating people using helium gas.
The cantonal government said in its statement it had not been "scientifically proved" that this method was cruel.
Three political parties including the right wing People’s Party the UDC/SVP had demanded action by the canton.
Dignitas, one of the few groups offering assisted suicide legally to non-Swiss nationals, has fuelled criticism about so-called death tourism. It claims to have helped hundreds of people end their lives in Switzerland.
In November 2007, there was an outcry when two Germans used the group to end their lives. The assisted suicide was carried out in a vehicle in a car park described as a "tasteless" and "undignified" way to end life. Euthanasia is illegal in Germany but the law on assisted suicide is less clear.
At the time, the group had been forced from the flat it was using previously, due to complaints from neighbours and been unable to find new premises.
The canton also stated in its findings that there was no evidence of financial exploitation by Dignitas Director Ludwig Minelli. The expenses received represented real costs.
[dpa / Expatica]