Assisted suicide does not violate right to life, Milan prosecutors rule

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
Assisted suicide does not violate right to life, Milan prosecutors rule
Assisted suicide clinic Dignitas in Switzerland. Photo: Sebastian Derungs/AFP

Assisted suicide does not violate the right to life, Milan prosecutors ruled on Tuesday, requesting the acquittal of a pro-euthanasia activist.


The ruling related to activist and Radical Party member Marco Cappato, who accompanied an Italian man to Switzerland to undergo assisted suicide.

The two prosecutors ruled that in such cases, the right to life was not violated, if the patient suffered from an "objectively assessable" terminal or serious illness causing "intolerable" suffering.

What's more, they said that Cappato had helped tetraplegic DJ Fabo "exercise his right to human dignity" by travelling with him to the Zurich Dignitas Clinic in February this year.

Cappato was automatically charged with breaking an Italian law which forbids assisted suicide, after handing himself into police. He could face up to 12 years in prison, but a judge will now evaluate the prosecutors' request.

"Life is a right, not a duty," Cappato said, commenting on Tuesday's ruling. He added that on the basis of the ruling, "assisted suicide of people affected by irreversible illnesses should be possible not only in Switzerland, but in Italy".

The DJ Fabo case brought the issue of assisted suicide into the spotlight in Italy. After undergoing therapy for his condition, caused by a road accident over three years ago, the former disc jockey became an emblem of the right-to-die campaign and repeatedly called on Italian politicians to legalize assisted suicide. 

Days before he travelled to Switzerland, Fabo, whose full name is Fabiano Antoniano, criticized politicians for lacking "courage" after discussion on a bill relating to living wills was postponed for the third time.

"We are slaves of a state that forces us to go abroad to free ourselves from an unbearable and endless torture," he said.

The much-discussed bill regarding living wills, but not euthanasia, is before Italian parliament but has received strong opposition both from the Catholic Church and conservative politicians.

READ ALSO: More news on euthanasia and assisted suicide from ItalyItalian DJ dies in Switzerland after government delays on assisted dying law
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP


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