Canada, the country with the most victims of euthanasia, is also the home of a man who may have enabled hundreds of people around the globe to commit suicide.
Kenneth Law, 57, of Mississauga, near Toronto, was arrested in May and has been charged with two counts of counselling or aiding suicide. But that is just the Canadian share of many deaths. He allegedly mailed more than 1200 suicide kits to people who contacted him on now-defunct websites with names like “Imtime Cuisine” and “Escape Mode”.
Mr Law only came to the attention of Canadian police after investigative reporters from The Times of London exposed him in April. It linked him to four deaths, although it appears that he had mailed 1200 packages to people in 40 countries. Police are investigating deaths in UK, Canada, the United States, Italy and New Zealand. His next appearance in court will be August 25.
Law’s conversation with an undercover reporter was chilling. He said that “many, many, many, many” people had died. He denied being a killer: “I’m not assisting anything; I’m selling a product.”
A British man, whose 22-year-old son died after buying the poison from Law’s website, told The Times: “I think he’s the man that effectively handed a loaded gun to my son. I believe my son would still be alive if it wasn’t for this man and this substance.”
The Times reporter coaxed Law into explaining why he was selling the lethal drug. He claimed that he had seen his mother suffer after having a stroke. “My father is religious and he didn’t believe very much in euthanasia at all. She was bedridden, couldn’t speak and they had to feed her through a tube to her stomach for over seven years. And that was very painful. Not only for her family, but also very painful for me to witness. This is why I created some avenue of escape, so that people, if they are in such a circumstance, can undertake it either by themselves or by somebody else.”
The Times was unable to verify his story.
He continued: “People might not consider what I do as being very favourable or in fact even criminal. But I think it is helpful for a small, very narrow group of people who really need an avenue like this, because simply the laws of our society don’t permit it. We’re not advanced enough as a civilisation to accept death openly. I hope I’m just being a little bit more enlightened.”
According to The Times, a number of the people who died after buying his product were young. “The oldest person we found who had died after taking his product was 38, the youngest was 17 and three were in their 20s.”
He was gratified by positive feedback from his customers. “They often say that I do God’s work, which is really way too much. I’m much more humble and modest than that.”
Dr Philip Nitschke, the Australian activist who has been called “the Elon Musk of assisted suicide”, said that some members of his organization, Exit International, had purchased the lethal drug from Law. He felt that Law had been imprudent to sell the drug to young people. But he commended his work: “He’s helped them achieve their goals. We’re watching this trial with great interest.”