U.S. Judge Keeps Minister in Jail Over Ireland Assisted Suicide Charges

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 20, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

U.S. Judge Keeps Minister in Jail Over Ireland Assisted Suicide Charges

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
August 20,

Beckley, WV (LifeNews.com) — An American judge has decided to keep a West Virginia minister in jail for the next few weeks while he determines if and when he will be extradited to Ireland. George David Exoo faces charges there that he was directly involved in the assisted suicide death of a Dublin woman who killed herself in 2002.

The Irish government asked the American government in 2004 for it to extradite Exoo, who runs the pro-euthanasia group Compassionate Chaplaincy.

Exoo was charged in aiding the woman’s death and publicly said he helped Rosemary Toole kill herself and sat next to her while she took lethal drugs and covered her head with a plastic bag to take her life.

But U.S. Magistrate Judge R. Clarke VanDervort told Exoo in a hearing on Friday that it may take weeks before he would be sent to the European nation.

“I don’t see being anywhere near reaching a conclusion in a week or two,” he said, according to the Charleston Gazette.

Whether Exoo is sent to Ireland to be tried for his crimes largely depends on what the judge decides about American extradition laws.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Wright appeared in court to support the extradition and said that even though assisted suicide isn’t a federal felony or a felony in West Virginia that it is one in 42 other states.

According to the newspaper, he said that extradition laws are supposed to be interpreted broadly and “Ties don’t go to the runner here."

But federal public defender Edward Weis, Exoo’s lawyer, said there is no consensus in the United States that assisted suicide is a crime.

“Generally, there is a consensus on what is criminal and what is not,” Weis said. “This is an area in which there is not consensus.”

Judge VanDervort acknowledged the difficulty of wading through the extradition laws and reaching a conclusion in the case.

“It’s going to take a considerable effort on my part, in my chambers, to reach a correct decision," he said.