Four criminal investigations into possible criminal euthanasia

The Board of Procurators General has decided that four criminal investigations will be instituted for possible criminal euthanasia, performed by two physicians. Two investigations are directed by the prosecutor's office of North Holland, one by the office of East Netherlands and the fourth by the prosecutor's office of The Hague.

Last year the regional review committee for euthanasia [Regionale Toetsingscommissie Euthanasie] (RTE) forwarded all four cases to the Public Prosecution Service [Openbaar Ministerie] (OM) for a criminal law review. This happens to every investigation when the RTE has concluded that a physician has not acted according to the standards for due care.

In the two cases investigated by a prosecutor in Noord-Holland, the same physician is involved. The investigation revolves around the death in May 2017 of a 67-year-old female, who lacked the capacity to express her own will and suffering from Alzheimer. The review committee found that the physician, at the time the life of the woman was terminated, was not able to ascertain if it was a voluntary and deliberate request for euthanasia because the living will had been drafted years before and had not been reconfirmed since. Furthermore the physician failed to substantiate why the suffering of the woman was unbearable.

Another case is about the termination of the life of an 84-year-old female in June last year. The woman regarded her life as hopeless because of several physical illnesses. The review committee considered, inter alia, that the physician could not have arrived at the conviction that other solutions to eliminate the suffering were lacking and that the suffering therefore was hopeless.

A public prosecutor of the prosecutor's office Oost-Nederland is investigating the euthanasia on a 72-year-old female in April 2017. She was suffering from metastasized cancer, all options for treatment had been exhausted and she regarded her suffering as unbearable because of the rapid deterioration of her physical condition. Two days before her life was terminated the woman lapsed into a coma that caused serious aphasia and alternating reduced consciousness. In this case the review committee found, inter alia, that the physician was not able to ascertain that the decision for euthanasia was a voluntary and well-considered decision. There was no written living will. According to the committee the physician could also not arrive at the conviction that her suffering was unbearable based on the facts and circumstances in the period immediately before the euthanasia.

A prosecutor of the Prosecution Service in The Hague has instituted an investigation into the death of an 84-year-old female in February last year. Her freedom of movement had been very much restricted by pulmonary emphysema. The woman had a euthanasia statement and had clearly expressed that she no longer wanted to live. She refused to undergo any further examinations or treatments. One of the conclusions of the review committee was that the physician concluded to easily that the suffering of his patient was hopeless