Canada Court Finds Stephan Dufour Not Guilty of Committing Assisted Suicide
by Steven Ertelt
December 10, 2008
Alma, Canada (LifeNews.com) — A Quebec court has ruled that 30-year-old Stephan Dufour is not guilty of aiding in a suicide despite the fact he helped kill his uncle in September 2006. Dufour says he gave in to pressure from his uncle, Chantal Maltais, who asked repeatedly for his help in taking his life.
Dufour was charged with one count of assisting a suicide after helping Chantal Maltais kill himself in September 2006.
Maltais had muscular dystrophy, was confined to a wheelchair, and had told his family for years he wanted their help in taking his life. He had repeatedly tried to kill himself.
Following a long investigation, police arrested Dufour in May 2007 and Dufour has pleaded not guilty.
Defense lawyer Michel Boudreault told the Canwest News Service that he thinks the not guilty verdict from the jury could have an impact on the future of legal decisions regarding assisted suicide since no court has ever fully considered a case like this one.
Crown prosecutor Denis Dionne didn’t think it would have as much impact because Dufour’s attorneys didn’t challenge the Canadian law prohibiting assisted suicide.
Alex Schadenberg, the head of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, told LifeNews.com he agreed.
He said he is "convinced that this case is not a straightforward case, that there is significant question as to whether Dufour intended or had the mental capacity to intend to participate in the death of his uncle Maltais."
"We are convinced that no precedent has been set in this case. The facts would lead one to question whether there was intention to break the law or whether the harassment by Maltais and his limited mental capacity was a reasonable limit on his intention," he added.
"This case should not be treated as a precedent setting case," Schadenberg said.
Schadenberg told LifeNews.com that the case should be viewed as one reason why assisted suicide is not as good as medical help and palliative treatment for patients.
"This is another sad case of a man who was experiencing extremely difficult life circumstances, who was depressed, and experiencing suicidal ideation and in need of suicide prevention intervention," he said.
Related web sites:
Euthanasia Prevention Coalition – https://www.epcc.ca
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