Leader of Dutch pro-assisted suicide group detained

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) – The president of a Dutch organization that campaigns for the right of people to end their own life and provides information to its members was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of involvement in assisted suicide .

Prosecutors said in a statement that the man is suspected of “participating in a criminal organization the object of which is to commit and / or plan the crime of assisted suicide.”

In 2002, the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide under strict conditions. It is still illegal for someone who is not a doctor to help someone kill themselves.

Prosecutors have not identified the suspect, but the organization he heads, called Final Will Cooperative, known by the Dutch acronym CLW, has confirmed that its chairman, Jos van Wijk, has been arrested.

In an emailed response to The Associated Press, the cooperative said it “regrets that the prosecution has decided to arrest its chairman. Since its inception in 2013, the CLW has consciously acted with respect for the law.

The organization said it “looks forward to the rest of the process with confidence”.

Debate has been going on for years in the Netherlands over whether to legalize assisted suicide as a way to give people control over the final stages of their lives and to allow the distribution of a substance that people wishing to end. their days may take.

While the cooperative says a majority of the Dutch population supports legalization, politicians remain deeply divided.

The group, which said it has more than 26,500 members, is pushing for a change in the law. He filed a civil lawsuit against the Dutch state in April, arguing that the government “acts illegally by denying its citizens the right to die with dignity under their own control”. The case is expected to go to court next year.

In another case, earlier this year, prosecutors also arrested a 28-year-old man from the southern city of Eindhoven on suspicion of providing “suspicious substance” to at least six people who committed suicide. Prosecutors allege he sold the substance from November 2018 to June this year. He has not yet been tried.

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