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Second trial of doctor in euthanasia case begins
Physician Joris Van Hove of East Flanders begins his second trial today in the Tine Nys euthanasia case. The civil proceedings follow last year’s trial of three doctors, including Van Hove (pictured, centre), all of whom were acquitted of murder in a case that dominated headlines in Belgium and was reported around the world.
The trial of the two physicians and one psychiatrist early last year marked the first time that the administering of euthanasia was brought to criminal court since Belgium’s euthanasia law was passed in 2002.
The complaint was filed by the family of Tine Nys, who requested and received euthanasia in 2010. The 38-year-old had requested euthanasia on the grounds of psychological pain.
The family claimed that the procedures regarding the approval and administration of euthanasia were not carried out according to law, particularly in the case of Dr Van Hove. He was not Nys’s family doctor but the second doctor who signed off on the case and carried out the euthanasia.
In Belgium, it is legally required to have two physicians sign off on the euthanasia request, with one of them being independent of the patient. A psychiatrist also has to approve the request.
While all three doctors were acquitted by a jury last year, the Nys family appealed the acquittal of Van Hove. The Court of Cassation agreed, overturning his acquittal last September on the grounds that the proceedings against Van Hove did not sufficiently interpret the law.
Van Hove will not face criminal charges again, however; instead, three judges will hear arguments as to whether he followed procedures when signing off and administering euthanasia. He faces having to pay damages to Nys’s family if found guilty.
Photo: Dr Joris Van Hove (centre) during last year’s criminal proceedings