Belgian prisoner granted Euthanasia
A Belgian man who has served 30 years in prison for rape and murder will have his request for euthanasia granted on Sunday, January 11, the prisons agency confirmed.
Frank Van den Bleeken (pictured) was found insane by a court in the 1980s on charges of rape and murder of a 19-year-old girl and was committed to a psychiatric institution for an indeterminate term. He was released after seven years and carried out three more attacks.
He has spent most of the rest of his time in custody in prison and is currently housed in the medical wing of the prison in Turnhout.
Van den Bleeken has complained about the lack of adequate psychiatric care in the prison system, saying that nothing has been done to curb the impulses that led him to commit his crimes. The European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg has condemned Belgium 14 times for failing to provide adequate care for psychiatric detainees.
The law on euthanasia requires that the patient convince doctors of intolerable suffering from an incurable condition. In Van den Bleeken’s case, a lack of treatment is being seen as a contributing factor to “unbearable psychological suffering”. His request was approved last year, and the procedure will be carried out in the Bruges prison facility on Sunday.
The case has led right-to-die advocate Dr Wim Distelmans, chair of the federal euthanasia evaluation committee, to step down from the post because of “certain legal requirements that are not being respected,” he wrote in De Morgen.
The euthanasia law requires any suffering to be caused by the patient’s condition, which is only partly true in this case, noted Distelmans. More importantly, he wrote, all other avenues of treatment have not been exhausted.