Friday 15 January 2021

Man who helped mother (99) to die should be jailed, says prosecutor

An elderly man who helped his 99-year-old mother to die seven years ago should be given a three-month suspended jail sentence, the public prosecution department said on Monday.

Albert Heringa (75) was earlier cleared on all charges but the Supreme Court in March said there should be a retrial because euthanasia carried out by someone other than a doctor must be subject to ‘very strict rules’. In addition, his earlier appeal was ‘granted far too lightly’, the court said.

Heringa decided to help his mother die when doctors refused her request to administer a lethal dose of medication. He filmed his mother, who was almost blind and suffering from crippling back pains, as he helped her take the pills that would kill her.

The footage featured in a documentary called De laatste wens van Moek (Mum’s final wish) which was broadcast in 2010.

The public prosecutor told the court in Den Bosch that while it did not doubt Heringa had the best of intentions, he should be punished for going his own way.

‘Assisted suicide can only be carried out without punishment by a doctor,’ the prosecutor said. ‘The suspect is not a doctor and cannot therefore claim exclusion from prosecution on the grounds of the euthanasia legislation.’

In 2013, Heringa was found guilty but went unpunished and the appeal court in 2015 found him not guilty. The case was then referred to the Supreme Court which this year called for a retrial.

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