Belgium jury acquits 3 doctors in landmark euthanasia case

Jan. 31 (UPI) -- A Belgium jury acquitted three doctors of manslaughter charges Friday in connection to the 2010 euthanasia case of Tine Nys.

Clinicians Joris Van Hove, who carried out the procedure, Lieve Thienpont and a third unidentified doctor expressed relief in the Ghent courtroom when jurors returned the verdict just after midnight.


Nys approached the doctors a decade ago to ask for an assisted suicide under Belgian euthanasia laws, arguing she was experiencing intolerable psychological suffering and living with a history of psychiatric problems and depression. She'd previously attempted suicide multiple times.

Nys' family, however, objected and ultimately prompted prosecutors to file manslaughter charges after the 38-year-old woman was euthanized in April 2010.

"This is a great burden lifted from my heart," Thienpont, a psychiatrist, said after Friday's verdict. "We have been carrying this for 10 years."

The jury expressed some concern about clearing Van Hove, since he was the doctor who put Nys to death by administering a lethal dose of poison.

"The verdict is that there is reasonable doubt on the part of the court in regard to Joris Van Hove," the lead judge said. "And if there is reasonable doubt, that works in favor of the accused."


"These have been difficult years for everyone and nobody has really won in this case," Van Hove told reporters. "I'll sleep well tonight."

The landmark trial lasted for three weeks before the case was given to the jury Thursday. They needed only a few hours to deliberate.

"The euthanasia commission was under fire for a long time, but now it seems they did their job well," said Wim Distelmans, chair of the Belgian euthanasia commission. "I'm very relieved. This verdict has been worth the wait."

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