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10-02-2020

Doctors cleared in landmark euthanasia trial of women 'who wanted to end her life because of a relationship'

Three Belgian doctors accused of murder for wrongly helping a woman end her life have been cleared by a court in a landmark case concerning euthanasia.

Relatives of Tine Nys, 38, who was given a lethal injection in April 2010, argued her death was unlawful as she wanted to die due to a failed relationship rather than an "incurable disorder" as required by Belgian law.

In the early hours of Friday morning in Ghent a jury of 12 acquitted Nye's former doctor Frank D, psychiatrist Lieve Thienpont, and Joris Van Hove, who administered the injection. 

After eight hours of deliberations the decision was met with applause in the courtroom, concluding Belgium's first criminal case on euthanasia.

Psychiatrist Lieve Thienpont told VRT network: "This is such a relief, this has been with us for 10 years."

The case was the first of its kind to go to trial since Belgium legalised euthanasia in 2002.

Nys' sisters Lotte and Sophe contested the fact their sister was "incurably ill" and said she had not received psychiatric treatment for more than 15 years.

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Her family and prosecutors argued the end of a relationship was not sufficient grounds for doctors to administer a lethal injection.

Nys had attempted suicide several times over the course of her life and struggled with a host of psychiatric issues.

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Expressing relief at the verdict, defence lawyer Walter Van Steebrugge said the outcome would be reassuring to doctors who assist in euthanasia.

If this would have gone the other way, so many doctors would have been in real deep trouble", he said.

Very few of the 2,357 euthanasia cases which take place in Belgium are granted on psychological grounds.

Belgium is one of two countries along with the Netherlands that permits euthanasia for people with mental illness.

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