The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Federal Court hears case of assisted suicide of 86-year-old woman

The Federal Supreme Court is holding a public hearing today, Wednesday, on the case of Pierre Beck, former Vice President of Exit Western Switzerland. He assisted the suicide of a healthy 86-year-old woman. The Geneva judiciary acquitted Beck of the charge of violating the Narcotics Act, but the public prosecutor's office has lodged an appeal.

For the second time in three years, the Federal Supreme Court is hearing the case in a public hearing. In December 2021, it overturned Beck's conviction for violating the Therapeutic Products Act. The case was referred back to the Geneva judiciary for reconsideration from the perspective of the Narcotics Act.

In February 2023, the Cantonal Chamber of Appeal acquitted the retired doctor of violating this law. It came to the conclusion that the mere fact that a doctor prescribes pentobarbital to a healthy person who is capable of judgment and willing to die does not constitute conduct that is punishable under the Narcotics Act.

Compliance with professional rules

In their ruling of February 2023, the Geneva judges stated that a doctor must comply with the rules of his profession when assisting a suicide. The public prosecutor's office appealed this decision to the Federal Supreme Court.

In 2017, Beck had prescribed an 86-year-old, healthy woman pentobarbital - a barbiturate used in anesthesia and as a sleeping pill. She had decided to die together with her seriously ill husband.

(Case 6B_393/2023)


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