Friday, June 25, 2010

Dignitas founder, Ludwig Minelli, is making millions

Who says that assisted suicide is about compassion and choices?

Ludwig Minelli
Ludwig Minelli has become a millionaire in the ten years since he set up his Dignitas suicide clinic in Switzerland.

An article that was published in the Telegraph examined the real motivation for the Dignitas founder, Ludwig Minelli. They reported that he has become wealthy by selling memberships, assisting suicides and getting donations from his vulnerable clients.

The Telegraph newspaper reported:
A newspaper investigation has raised new questions about Dignitas and whether Ludwig Minelli, its founder and director, makes profit from his “mercy killings”.

Previously a human rights lawyer and an attorney at the Zurich bar, Mr Minelli had no taxable personal fortune registered when he set up his suicide clinic in 1998.

A decade later, the Beobachter investigation found, he had an annual taxable income of £98,000 and a personal fortune of over £1.2 million, wealth that includes a luxury villa.

Mr Minelli, who said he would take no salary from Dignitas when opening the clinic 12 years ago, has insisted that his wealth comes from an inheritance, left by his mother.

But the cost of a simple suicide at Dignitas has risen from £1,800 in 2005 to £4,500, fuelling suspicions that the clinic may not be sticking to Swiss laws that are supposed to prevent people “selfishly” profiting from assisted suicide.

The cost of the clinic’s full service, including funerals, medical costs and official fees, is as high as £7,000.

Andreas Brunner, a Swiss prosecutor, has accused Mr Minelli, and Dignitas, of hiding behind Swiss privacy laws to refuse publication of their accounts for the last five years.

Soraya Wernli
”We have never had a good look at their book-keeping but in order to demand that we need a good reason and a concrete example that there is something suspicious to investigate,” he said. “He has promised for years to make the accounts public but it has never happened.”

Dignitas has faced criticism for accepting donations from suicide clients, one patient is said to have signed over more than £60,000.

Soraya Wernli, a nurse employed by Dignitas between 2003 and 2005, has accused the organisation of being a “production line of death concerned only with profits”.

In April this year, police divers found over 60 cremation urns dumped in Lake Zurich. Each of the urns bore the logo of the Nordheim crematorium used by Dignitas.

Mr Minelli, in an interview in March, insisted that Dignitas did not make profits for personal gain but claimed that Swiss law did not prevent money being made from euthanasia.

”If you are helping and abetting without selfish motives, this is quite legal,” he told the American PBS broadcaster.

”If you would take a lot of money for this service, then it might be selfish. But if somebody would do it for normal profit, it would even still be legal. But Dignitas is not working for profit. We are an association, and the association does not make profit. If we make profit, we will take this profit in order to have a higher quality of our services.”
At the same time Stuart Weisberg, a psychiatrist, announced plans to open a Dignitas style suicide clinic in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal. The Oregon Medical Board has temporarily stopped Weisberg by suspending his license to practise medicine in Oregon. Nonetheless, the law in Oregon does not prevent doctors from competing with Compassion & Choices by setting up lucrative suicide clinics.

At the same time Compassion & Choices has also been able to turn assisted suicide into a lucrative fund raising business with reported income from donations and services in the millions.

Link to a previous article about the Dignitas Clinic:


Dan said...

This sounds like it is right out of the novel solyent green...Minnelli looks or resembles the actor who fights detective Thorn and allows Thorn to communicate with Sol played by by Edward G Robinson...really uncanny...however...I don't think Dignitas is doing this to feed the world...and I'm quite sure it's not free....I've lived long enough to know enough...they're in it for the money...miserable or's the money

Unknown said...

...they're in it for the money...miserable or's the money

Who isn't in it for money, whatever the service? My dentist charged me $1000 for less than 2 hours work. Is that expensive? Yes. Do I have a choice? Yes, another dentist might have been cheaper. The fees for assisted suicide would come down with more competition. More suicide clinics would bring down the costs to the consumer. Remember this as well: the clinics don't get repeat business from any single client. One job, one fee, that's it. They have to cover expenses and make a profit.