A Belgium court has acquitted three doctors accused of unlawfully euthanizing a 38-year-old woman who was suffering from mental problems.
According to AP, Tine Nys’ family took the case to court, arguing that the euthanasia should never have happened, claiming her mental state wasn’t hopeless and treatment was still possible.
Tine Nys’ sisters, Lotte and Sophie, claimed she was not incurably ill, as Belgian law requires, but was suffering from the mental stress of a fail relationship. Despite being affected with severe psychiatric problems in her childhood, the 38-year-old had not received treatment for 15 years.
Prior to her death, Tine Nys reportedly attempted suicide, suffered from an abortion, worked as a prostitute, and was later diagnosed with autism, for which she had not been treated, witnesses said.
Joris Van Cauter, Sophie’s lawyer said the family did not want the doctors to go to prison, instead, they wanted an official acknowledgement that euthanasia should not have been administered under the circumstances.
“It makes you wonder about medicine and how you make life or death decisions,” Mr Van Cauter said. “My client asked, ‘How can you say that you tried to treat her?'”
After a two-week trial and eight hours of deliberations, the 12 jurors cleared the three doctors in the criminal court of Ghent. The decision was met with “wild applause” from the courtroom.
Mr Van Cauter described the ruling as “disappointing,” saying the way Tine Nys was treated was “very sad.”
Fernand Keuleneers, a lawyer working with Nys family’s legal team, said the ruling turned euthanasia into a free-for-all.
“The euthanasia law is now beyond any controls,” Mr Keuleneers said. “Everyone can do what he or she wants. The political world is facing a massive problem.”
The Belgian act legalising euthanasia was passed on May 28, 2002, and went into effect September 3, 2002. Belgian law requires a patient to be aware and able to express their will a the time of seeking suicide. They also must report ongoing and unbearable suffering.
In December 2013, the Senate voted to extend its euthanasia law to terminally ill children with parental consent. Less than three years later, a 17-year-old was the first minor to be euthanised in Belgium under the new legislation.
The latest public figures reveal more than 2,350 people were euthanised in Belgium in 2018.