Three doctors go on trial for murder for helping a woman, 38, end her life in Belgium’s first euthanasia case
- Three are accused of unlawfully poisoning Tine Nys on April 27 2010 by family
- They say she did not have an incurable mental disorder, a key condition
- Doctors on trial include Ms Nys’s former general practitioner and a psychiatrist
Three Belgian doctors will go on trial for murder for helping a 38-year-old woman end her life in Belgium’s first criminal case concerning euthanasia.
The doctors, whose names have not been made public, are accused of unlawfully poisoning Tine Nys on April 27, 2010.
Prosecutors say she did not have an incurable mental disorder, a key condition for granting euthanasia.
The doctors, who will go on trial in Ghent, northern Belgium, tomorrow are the first to be brought to court for euthanasia since the practice was legalised in 2002.
The three doctors have been accused of murdering Tine Nys, 38, (centre). Prosecutors say that she did not have an incurable mental disorder, a key condition for granting euthanasia
The three, whose signatures were required for the procedure, are the doctor who administered the lethal injection, Ms Nys’s former general practitioner and a psychiatrist.
The family claimed in 2018 she was suffering from a broken heart due to a failed relationship, and that she falsely claimed to be autistic in order to be approved for euthanasia.
They have also complained that it was carried out in an amateurish manner and her sister Sophie has said she was asked to hold the needle during the procedure.
Psychiatrist Lieve Thienpont, who was accused by nine fellow psychiatrists in a letter to the British Medical Journal in 2015 of being responsible ‘for probably close to 50 per cent… of euthanasia cases for psychiatric disorders’, has previously complained about the family.
In one leaked email, she wrote: ‘We must try to stop these people. It is a seriously dysfunctional, wounded, traumatised family with very little empathy and respect for others… I am starting to better understand Tine’s suffering.’
There is no suggestion that Ms Thienpont is involved in the trial.
Psychiatrist Lieve Thienpont, right, has been accused by nine fellow psychiatrists of being responsible for ‘close to 50 per cent… of euthanasia cases’. There is no suggestion that she is involved in the trial
When the trial begins on Tuesday it will focus on jury selection, a process that could take some time.
Prosecutors will then read the indictment on Friday before the doctors are given a chance to speak next Monday. If the three are found guilty they will likely face time in jail.
Belgian law allows adults to request the right to die on condition that they are facing unbearable physical or mental suffering resulting from a serious and incurable disorder. It was extended to terminally ill children in 2014.
Most patients choosing medically assisted death have terminal cancer, but mental suffering has extended, for example, to twins born deaf and becoming blind who are unable to bear not being able to see or hear each other.
In neighbouring Netherlands, where euthanasia is also legal, a doctor was acquitted in a trial in September after being accused of failing to secure proper consent from a woman who had Alzheimer’s. Prosecutors there have since sought a Supreme Court ruling.
Ms Thienpont runs a clinic in Ghent where she gives people advice on euthanasia
During the decade after euthanasia was legalised, there were 8,752 cases, with a gradual increase each year, according to a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
In 2003 there were 235 euthanasia cases, representing 0.2 per cent of nationwide deaths and, in 2013, there were 1,807 cases, which was 1.7 per cent of deaths.
Up to 69 per cent of all cases were people with cancer in 2013, and 65 per cent were under the age of 80.
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