Belgian doctors refuse to euthanise rapist and murderer
The rapist and murderer who won the right to be voluntarily put to death in Belgium this Sunday will not be euthanised following a medical decision, an official said.
Justice minister Koen Geens said in a statement yesterday that he would take note "of the decision of doctors treating Mr Frank Van den Bleeken to no longer continue the euthanasia procedure".
Despite Europe's ban on the death penalty, an application by Van Den Bleeken (52) to die had been accepted by Belgium's Federal Euthanasia Commission in September.
Van Den Bleeken is not physically ill, but claims that his "psychological suffering" is unbearable and that he would prefer to die than spend more of his life behind bars.
But doctors at the specialist clinic to which he was sent for the lethal injection decided yesterday not to go through with the procedure this weekend as scheduled.
Van Den Bleeken's right to euthanasia has been strongly condemned by the family of his victim.
The two older sisters of Christiane Remacle, a 19-year-old girl who was raped and strangled to death by Van Den Bleeken on her way home from a New Year's Eve party on January 1 1989, called for him to "languish in prison" rather than be allowed a swift release.
"Commissions, doctors and experts have spent so long considering the ups and downs of the life of the murderer of our sister," one, Annie, told a Dutch newspaper.
"In all those years, no committee ever asked our parents or us how we felt.
"No doctor or expert ever came and asked how we were. And then we hear his lawyer on the radio saying how tough it was for him to be abandoned in prison."
Van Den Bleeken had argued that he has no prospect of ever being released from prison as he cannot overcome his uncontrollable sexual impulses, and that he does not wish another two or three decades in jail.
Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002, and is one of only three countries to allow the practice, the others being the Netherlands and Luxembourg.
More countries, including Switzerland and some states of America, allow doctors to assist suicide in certain circumstances. But Belgium has seen a fast growth in the number of cases of euthanasia, and has expanded the practice beyond terminally ill adults. (© Daily Telegraph, London)