Investigation and prosecution in Belgium
Since euthanasia was legalised in Belgium in 2002 and it has increasingly become normalised as the go-to response to an ever widening range of circumstances including children with disabilities, uncompleted suicides and victims of child abuse.
It is therefore surprising to learn of two recent case of criminal investigation, one of which is now being prosecuted.
Dr Marc van Hoey, who estimates he has personally euthanased about 140 people, is being investigated for his actions in 2015 when he performed euthanasia on an elderly woman who was threatening to commit suicide after the sudden death of her daughter.
Dr Lieve Thienpont, a psychiatrist, and two other doctors are being prosecuted for the poisoning in April 2010 – under the guise of euthanasia - of a 38 year old woman, Tine Nys.
Lotte, Tyne and Sophie Nys
Dr Thienpont signed off on Tine’s request for euthanasia on the basis of a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome given just two months before she was killed by a lethal injection.
Tine’s family filed a criminal complaint in 2017 alleging that:
- Tine did not have Aspergers Syndrome but was seeking to end her life after a failed relationship;
- that the doctors made no effort to treat her for any suffering allegedly arising from the supposed condition; and
- that during the actual process of euthanasia the doctor asked Tine’s parents to hold the needle while he injected the lethal drugs, and even asked the family to check Tine’s heart with a stethoscope to confirm her death.
After the criminal complaint was initiated Dr Thienpont wrote to colleagues calling on them to “try to stop these people [the Nys family]. It is a seriously dysfunctional, wounded, traumatized family with very little empathy and respect for others.”
It remains to be seen whether these cases will result in any effective limit being placed on Belgium's runaway experiment with euthanasia.