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The Swiss Way Part III: Follow the Cash
Well, I hadn't planned a Part III about the Swiss death machine Dignitas, but as I suspected, we're starting to see a trickle of information about the rotten underbelly of the business of killing in the heart of civilized Europe.
It's the money, stupid……..
Dignitas bigwig Ludwig Minelli put Nurse Wernli quickly to work sorting out the contents of black plastic bin liners that were cluttering a stairwell.
What she found changed what she thought of Dignitas, it’s claims to dignified dying, and put pay to the whole notion of patients and their loved ones being treated with respect:
Minelli said I should empty the sacks onto a long table - they were huge - and sort through everything. I opened one up and was horrified by what was inside. Mobile phones, handbags, ladies' tights, shoes, spectacles, money, purses, wallets, jewels.Wernli soon realized that Dignitas was, first and foremost, about cold, hard, cash. It was, she said, a 'production line of death concerned only with profits.'
I realised these were possessions which had been left behind by the dead. They had never been returned to family members. Minelli made his patients sign forms saying the possessions were now the property of Dignitas and then sold everything on to pawn and second-hand shops.
I felt disgusted. You see these old photos of people in Nazi death camps sorting through the possessions of those who had been gassed. Well, right then and there, that is how I felt.
She recalls clashing with Minelli about his deadly production-line. One case that especially irked her was the death of 74-year old Brit Reginald Crew:
Mr. Crew arrived in the morning and was dead just hours later,' she says. 'This was another of my many clashes with Minelli. I argued that it wasn't right that people land at the airport, are ferried to his office, have their requisite half-an-hour with a doctor, get the barbiturates they need and are then sent off to die.All well and good, Nurse Wernli, but your assumption is [misguided] compassion.
This is the biggest step anyone will ever take. They should at least be allowed to stay overnight, to think about what they are doing. But Minelli would have none of it. He once said to me that if he had his way, he would have vending machines where people could buy barbiturates to end their lives as easily as if they were buying a soft drink or a bar of chocolate. I support assisted suicide - but not the way he went about it.
Minelli's is money. A simple cash flow issue.
More people dead, more money made.
People want to die.
Minelli charges to help kill them.
He goes to the bank.
What's not to like?