Man who helped woman to die gets six months

A member of the Swiss euthanasia organisation, Exit, has been sentenced to six months in prison for suffocating a terminally ill patient with a plastic bag. It is the first time a person has been sentenced in Switzerland for helping someone to die.

This content was published on December 29, 2000 - 17:00

The defendant, who was not named, was sentenced by a court in canton Zug.

The judge imposed the prison term not because the defendant had helped the terminally ill patient to die, but because he had placed a plastic bag over her head to speed up her death.

He had already given her a fatal dose of a sleeping drug, but decided to suffocate her when she failed to stop breathing.

The director of Exit, Elke Baezner, said the man was suspended from the organisation immediately after the incident for violating the procedure under which patients are helped to die.

The Swiss authorities generally turn a blind eye in cases of assisted suicide, provided a lethal dose of medicine is taken voluntarily by the patient. In this case, the court ruled that death had been caused not by the patient herself, but by the helper.

swissinfo with agencies

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