A Dutch doctor has been acquitted of breaking euthanasia laws in a landmark case over ending the life of a 74-year-old woman.
The unnamed doctor had been accused by prosecutors of failing to consult the woman who had Alzheimer’s.
But a judge today ruled that a declaration written by the patient four years earlier had sufficed.
The Hague District Court heard that the patient had to be held down by her family after a lethal dose of a drug was administered by the doctor.
The court in the Netherlands heard that the doctor had the right to abide by the woman’s wishes.
The Hague District Court (pictured above) heard that the doctor had the right to abide by the 74-year-old woman’s wishes (stock image of court)
Judge Mariette Renckens told the court in the Hague that it concluded that ‘all requirements of the euthanasia legislation had been met’.
‘We believe that given the deeply demented condition of the patient the doctor did not need to verify her wish for euthanasia.’
It is the first case of its kind to have gone to trial and had centered on whether the woman had given her consent.
In a written statement she had previously said that she wanted to be euthanised rather than being put into a care home.
The doctor administered the second part of the sedative by an injection (stock image above of a doctor with a syringe)
She highlighted that she ‘wanted to be able to decide’ when she died, while she was ‘still in her senses’.
Before being taken into care the doctor decided it was appropriate to euthanise her and confirmed it with two other doctors before setting a date for her death.
On the day the doctor put a sedative into the patients drink, after half an hour she felt sleepy, but could not sleep.
The second part of the sedative was then administered by injection.
While the patient slept the doctor then administered a lethal dose of a different drug, however the woman woke and had to be held down by her family in order to receive the final injection.
The woman’s daughter said her mother had been ‘freed from the mental prison which she ended up in’.
The lawyer representing the 68-year-old doctor, who was not in court, said his client would be delighted with the verdict.
Robert-Jan van Eenennaam said: ‘The judges were very clear in their verdict that she acted in the correct manner. But my client still feels that a criminal case was not the correct way to deal with the issue. She has been through a lot these past few months.’
Since 2002 doctors in the Netherlands have been able to carry out euthanasia if a patient is said to be enduring ‘unbearable and endless suffering’.
They also have to have requested to die ‘earnestly and with full conviction’.