Swiss euthanasia doctor acquitted of murder for a second time

Assisted suicide is legal in Switzerland since the 1940s under certain conditions. Keystone / Gaetan Bally

A doctor who helped a mentally ill woman take her life has once more been cleared of intentional homicide.

This content was published on May 7, 2021 - 16:24

A Swiss appeals court in canton Basel rejected attempts by prosecutors to overturn a 2019 verdict that had cleared the doctor of murder. The court upheld the earlier conviction for violating laws governing the use of medicaments but reduced the punishment.

The doctor had helped a woman, who was in her sixties and suffering from a mental illness, to take her life.

Prosecutors argued once again that the doctor should have first obtained psychiatric opinions before agreeing to assist the suicide. But the appeals court found this was not necessary given the nature of the mental condition.


The verdict is seen as a landmark in the legal assessment of euthanasia, which is lawful in Switzerland under certain conditions. This is because it touches on the critical issue of when a patient is deemed to be able to take the decision to end their life.

The doctor, who founded and runs the Swiss euthanasia association Eternal Life, was ordered to pay a reduced fine for medicaments offences. But the court waived a 15-month suspended prison sentence imposed by the original court case in 2019.

The case could be appealed once again in the federal courts.

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