Man guilty of helping mother to die acted out of love, says court

A man who helped his 99-year-old mother to die because the family doctor was unwilling to help has been found guilty of committing a crime but will not face punishment.

The public prosecution department said Albert Heringa should be given a three-month suspended sentence but judges in Gelderland said he should not be sentenced because he acted out of love.

Heringa helped his mother end her life by buying her pills and then filmed the process. It is a criminal offence to help someone commit suicide in the Netherlands unless the strict guidelines for euthanasia are adhered to.

Documentary

Heringa had hoped to stimulate public debate by recording the process. Television programme Network broadcast the documentary ‘Moek’s last wish’ in 2010. The public prosecutor decided last year to take legal action against Heringa.

The court said Heringa should have made more of an effort to find a doctor who would help the woman. In addition, he took a serious risk by leaving the house before his stepmother had died.

However, the court ruled it would not punish Heringa for his actions because of the time the public prosecution department had taken to bring the case to trial. In addition, he acted out of love, the court said.