South African euthanasia activist charged with murder

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A campaigner for the legalisation of euthanasia in South Africa has been charged with murder relating to the death of a man in 2013, police said on Wednesday.

Sean Davison, who founded right-to-die organisation Dignity SA, is accused of assisting in the suicide of his friend Anrich Burger who was left quadriplegic after a car crash, local media reported.

“A 57-year-old man was arrested on a charge of murder (Tuesday) relating to an incident in Sea Point on November 2, 2013 which led to the death of a 43-year-old man,” said police spokesman Andre Traut in a statement.

Davison appeared in court, was charged with premeditated murder and released on bail of 20,000 rand ($1,366, 1,169 euros), the News24 site reported.

Prosecutors told the court that “new information has come to light… the accused might have committed other similar offences”, the site added.

In December 2016, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that granted a man the right to medically-assisted death and could have opened the way to legalise euthanasia.

The government appealed against the initial judgement, saying it could lead to assisted-suicide legislation that would be open to abuse.

Medically-assisted suicide or voluntary euthanasia is illegal in South Africa, but in recent years there have been growing calls for it to be legalised.

South African retired Anglican archbishop and anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, 86, has previously said he would like to be allowed the option of a dignified assisted death.

Source: AFP