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Swiss doctor convicted for aiding man’s suicide

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Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]
Swiss doctor convicted for aiding man’s suicide
Photo: AFP

A Neuchâtel doctor is considering an appeal after being fined 500 francs ($517) by a local court that found him guilty of helping an 89-year-old patient die without getting a proper diagnosis of the man’s condition.

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A police court in Boudry, in the canton of Neuchâtel, delivered the sentence against Dr. Philippe Freiburghaus on Monday.

The prosecution argued that Freiburghaus had “crossed the line” by failing to follow the legal regulations, which require that a doctor must properly diagnose the presence of an incurable illness and a short life expectancy before assisting suicide.

Freiburghaus told the court he acted out of compassion in prescribing sodium pentobarbital to the elderly man, who was suffering from pain and had tried to end his life.

The drug is commonly used for assisted suicide, which is legal in Switzerland.

Freiburghaus remained unrepentant, expressing disbelief over the court’s decision, according to an online report from Le Matin.

“Soon a doctor will no longer be able to do anything without contravening legal niceties,” he is quoted as saying by the newspaper.

“It’s as though I’m continuing a voyage in the land of the absurd.”

The doctor said he was reproached for not having gone far enough with his diagnosis.

But Freiburghaus said he obtained a complete history of the man’s illness from the patient.

From this he determined the man was suffering from rectal cancer.

The doctor testified, however, that his patient did not want to be treated or examined and threatened to commit suicide by his own means.

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