Dutch court punishes the selling of “euthanasia” drugs


Western Europe


Demonstration in favour of euthanasia, including the distribution of suicide powder. Photo ANP, Rob Engelaar

The court in the Dutch city of Arnhem imposed penalties for selling suicide powders on Thursday. This means that suicide drugs cannot be seen as a legitimate means for "private" euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Two leaders of the Last Will Cooperation have been given prison sentences for providing the lethal drug called X to people. The highest punishment was a one-year suspended prison sentence. Other sentences were 80 hours of community service.

According to the court in Arnhem, the 74-year-old leader of the Last Will Cooperation distributed “at least a thousand doses, and possibly more”, with all future risks, according to the Dutch press agency ANP.

Those drugs were bought by people who wanted to end their lives and, in some cases, did. Among them were “vulnerable, relatively young people whose death wish does not appear to have been enduring,” the judge said.

The judge also mentioned the suffering of bereaved families. For example, a woman’s death wish caused her to become distant from her daughter, who, therefore, could not be with her in the final phase of her life.

The two sentences were significantly lower than what the public prosecutor had demanded. Four other suspects were acquitted. The court did not rule on a seventh suspect because he recently died, so the case against him was dropped. All the suspects were older than 70.

The supplier of the lethal drug was Alex S. (31) from Eindhoven. He was sentenced last year to 3.5 years in prison (of which 1.5 years suspended). His case is still on appeal.

The criminal case served in April and had seven defendants at the time. One of the suspects subsequently died at the age of 80. The case against him lapsed as a result. The prosecution had also demanded 2.5 years in prison against him, one year of which was suspended.

The defendants wanted people to be able to decide on their own death. The court spoke of “a group of people in whom the ideal of autonomy was paramount”; they were not people “who acted on death”, according to the judge. The case has a lot of political idealism, although it is idealism and ideology around life and death.

In the square in front of the court, a group of people demonstrated in support of the defendants. The reading of the verdict was disturbed several times by sirens and shouting with a megaphone.

Relatives of several people who died after using drug X are “baffled” by the low sentences given to two people for supplying that suicide drug. They think the court in Arnhem let the suspects get away with it, according to their lawyer, Sébas Diekstra.



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