Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Crown seeks appeal in Quebec assisted suicide case

Crown Prosecutor, Denis Dionne, said that the Crown will appeal the acquittal of Stephan Dufour in the death of his uncle Chantal Maltais.

Stephan Dufour
The Euthanasia Prevention Coalition (EPC) reacted to the acquittal of Stephan Dufour on December 12, 2008 by challenging the comments by the euthanasia lobby that this case was a precedent setting case. EPC recognized that Dufour set-up the suicide device for Maltais, his uncle, but he did so under extreme duress and did not encourage his uncle to commit suicide. EPC also considered Dufour's diminished mental capacity as a mitigating factor, making him less capable of resisting the pressure from his uncle.

The Canwest news article on the appeal stated:
Dionne said his appeal will stress that Dufour had opportunities to dismantle the device after it was installed but that the court limited its focus to the installation of the device.

The following day "he could have neutralized the device," Dionne said, stressing the crime of assisted suicide went beyond the installation.

During trial the defence said Dufour was under his uncle's spell and that his limited intellectual capacities prevented him resisting Maltais' multiple requests to put an end to his life.
The article also stated that Dionne was questioning the mental capacity defense.

EPC welcomes the appeal, if the Crown brings new evidence into the case but without new evidence this will only be a re-trial of a questionable case.

This case did not put assisted suicide on trial but rather the defense was based on the capacity of Dufour to break the law. This cannot be a jury nullification of assisted suicide but rather a question of Dufour's mental capacity to commit the crime.

The Canadian Press article emphasized how this case is feeding the assisted suicide debate. The article stated:
Dufour's case reignited the country's assisted-suicide debate, which gained national attention in the 1990s when Sue Rodriguez took her battle for the right to kill herself to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Once again EPC does not consider this case to be a precedent setting case in Canada because it is riddled with mitigating factors that make its outcome uncertain under any circumstances.

The trial is unlikely to make it to court until the fall of 2009.

Link to the comments about Dufour's acquittal:

Link to Canwest news article:

Link to the Canadian Press article:

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