March 5, 2024

Euthanasia is only for doctors, say Dutch prosecutors

After nearly 10 years, a tragic case may be drawing to a close

Albert Heringa at his trial in 2015 

A 75-year-old Dutch man who helped his 99-year-old mother to die after her euthanasia request had been refused by doctors should be given a three-month suspended jail sentence, says a public prosecutor.

The case has been in the courts and the media for years. The woman died in 2008. Her son Albert Heringa was found guilty in 2013 but he was not punished. On appeal in 2015 the Dutch Supreme Court called for a retrial.

The public prosecutor declared in court that “Assisted suicide can only be carried out without punishment by a doctor. The suspect is not a doctor and cannot therefore claim exclusion from prosecution on the grounds of the euthanasia legislation.” While his intention was good – to free his aged mother from blindness and back pain – Heringa was not authorised to carry out euthanasia.

Heringa filmed his mother’s last moments as she took a lethal dose of medication. The footage was later used in a 2010 documentary, De laatste wens van Moek (Mum’s final wish). 

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