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German court clears euthanasia docs

Dec. 23, 2008 at 1:55 PM

HAMBURG, Germany, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Two German doctors charged with manslaughter after helping a terminally ill British man die in 2004 have been acquitted, observers said.

Paul Schoenle, the former head of neurology at a rehabilitation center in Magdeburg, Germany, and physician Frantisek Kovacic were cleared of charges Monday after a Hamburg court determined they had acted ethically in the case of Briton Timothy Sanders, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

Schoenle had been charged with manslaughter while Kovacic was charged with being an accessory to manslaughter after they allowed the brother of the fatally ill and paralyzed Sanders to turn off his breathing apparatus in May 2004, the broadcaster said.

Sanders had been paralyzed since an accident in 2002 and could not breathe unaided. He died minutes after his brother Paul turned off the machines in a case of euthanasia, prosecutors said.

"The court found that the doctors behaved correctly both ethically and medically," a court spokeswoman said following the ruling, which determined that Sanders had already been terminally ill when his life was ended, Deutsche Welle reported.

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