Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dignitas under investigation for 'profiteering' from assisted suicide

An article in the Telegraph Newspaper in the UK is reporting an investigation that is being done into the financial affairs of the supposedly "non-profit" Dignitas assisted suicide clinic in Switzerland.

The article reports that the Dignitas clinic that has assisted the suicide deaths of nearly 1,000 people is under investigation amid fears it may be profiteering from its vulnerable patients.

The article states:
The founder of the group (Ludwig Minelli) is reported to have become a millionaire by helping at least 870 terminally ill people – an estimated 100 of whom were British – die. It is said to have taken as much as £61,000 from one woman, 10 times its usual fee. ...

Juerg Vollenweider, state prosecutor in Zurich, said: "We still don't even know what Dignitas does with the 10,000 Francs it is paid (£6,000) or what it is for.

"If we are kept from taking a look into their accounting, we could see that as selfish motives."

"But if Dignitas can also be shown to have selfish motives, it could be in a lot of trouble," a legal source said.

The Swiss law states that it is illegal to assist a suicide for personal gain. If the authorities prove that Dignitas and Minelli are gaining from suicide assistance then they are breaking the law.

The article also quotes from a Swiss newspaper that reported:
According to the Swiss newspaper Blick, the head of Dignitas, Ludwig Minelli, has so far failed to hand over the books, claiming he needs to transfer them from old computer software.

He said: "As soon as I find enough time I'll do it. If the state prosecution feels I'm making myself rich, they should start legal proceedings."


The current scandal is simply one of many scandals that has been reported about Dignitas over the past 10 years.

The article stated:
Last year it (Dignitas) was evicted from a flat in Zurich after neighbours complained about dead bodies being taken out in the lift and hearses parked outside.

Swiss officials have also investigated allegations that the remains of dead patients were being dumped in lakes after being cremated. Two Dignitas workers were allegedly caught trying to pour the ashes of 20 bodies into Lake Zurich, but a former employee claimed at least 200 people's mortal remains had ended up in the same body of water.

The operation of Dignitas is creating a significant concern in the UK where more than 100 people have gone to Dignitas to die by assisted suicide.

The UK does not appear to be moving towards legalizing assisted suicide. Recently Gordon Brown the UK Prime Minister said recently:
"It is not really for us to create any legislation that would put pressure on people to feel they had to offer themselves because they were causing trouble to a relative or anyone else.

"I think we have got to make it absolutely clear that the importance of human life is recognised."

I am not surprised by the fact that Dignitas is being investigated for financial impropriety. Several years ago I learned that Dignitas required that anyone who wished to die at their clinic needed to first become a Dignitas member. Membership was not cheap and having a membership with Dignitas did not buy you death. You still needed to pay a significant fee to receive approval to die at Dignitas.

I friend of mine has always said that when you follow the money you will learn the true motivation.

Dignitas has also been using the Exit Bag with Helium method to kill their members. Considering the fact that no prescription is needed to employ this method, Dignitas probably also needs to be investigated concerning what kind of cases they are willing to assist a suicide.

Are they killing people who suffer from treatable depression? Are they killing people who are "Tired of Living"? These are questions that need to be answered.

Link to a previous article about Dignitas:
http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2008/11/swiss-assisted-suicide-clinic-offers.html

Link to the original article:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/4160472/Dignitas-under-investigation-for-profiteering-from-assisted-suicide-patients.html

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