Swiss doc convicted for helping fit woman commit suicide
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The vice-president of a Swiss assisted suicide association said Friday he had been convicted for helping a healthy woman take her life alongside her sick husband, and said he would appeal.
Pierre Beck, 74, of the assisted suicide provider group Exit in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, prescribed the barbiturate pentobarbital to the 86-year-old woman.
Geneva’s cantonal criminal appeals court said he committed a “serious offense” and “deliberately chose to break the law”, in a judgment issued on April 20, according to the RTS public broadcaster.
The regional court also upheld a sentence imposed by a lower court last year of a suspended fine.
The retired doctor told AFP on Friday that he now planned to go to Switzerland’s highest court to appeal the ruling.
The case dates back to April 2017, when Beck helped a couple commit suicide together.
While the man was seriously ill, his wife was healthy but insisted she wanted to die with her husband.
She had said as much before a lawyer in December 2015, according to RTS.
“I, therefore, ask Exit to lend me assistance to put an end to my days in this world, without delay,” she reportedly said.
Swiss law generally allows assisted suicide if the person commits the lethal act themselves — meaning doctors cannot administer deadly injections, for example — and the person consistently and independently articulates a wish to die.
Organizations that support assisted suicide also apply their procedures, which are more robust than the legal requirements.
When Beck helped the couple kill themselves, Exit’s criteria for doing so was that they were greatly suffering from an illness.
Beck said during his appeal hearing that the woman had made a suicide pact with her husband and that she could not stand the thought of living without him.
“She told me clearly and irrevocably that she would kill herself,” he told the court, according to the ATS news agency.
Beck reportedly feared she would end her life in a violent way, if necessary by throwing herself off the city wall. (AFP)