AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Dutch prosecutors launched a criminal case on Friday against a doctor for performing euthanasia on an Alzheimer’s sufferer without adequately confirming she wanted to die, the first case of its kind since mercy killing was legalized in 2002.
The 74-year-old woman, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease four years before her death, had a certified living will stating her wish for euthanasia if her condition were to worsen significantly.
But a review committee concluded last year that the will was unclear and contradictory. Prosecutors said it was doubtful whether the doctor was entitled to rely on it without verifying the euthanasia request with the patient.
Euthanasia and assisted suicide are legal in the Netherlands under very strict conditions and when overseen by medical professionals.
Assisting a suicide or providing a means to commit suicide outside of the strict euthanasia criteria is punishable with a jail term of up to three years.
Reporting by Bart Meijer; Editing by Peter Graff