Acquittal for man that killed his terminally ill wife

A court in the East Flemish city of Dendermonde has acquitted a 59-year-old man that was on trial for the murder of his terminally ill wife. He had wished to die together with his 63-year-old wife that had terminal cancer.

The couple went to the Stropersbos, an area of woodland in Stekene (East Flanders). The man killed his wife before attempting to commit suicide. He survived and was found later in a confused state next to his wife’s body.  

The Public Prosecutor had asked for a 5-year suspended sentence to be imposed as the man’s wife had asked him to kill her. The defence had requested his acquittal, basing their request on article 71 of the criminal code that cites “irresistible compulsion” as a line of defence.  

When passing sentence the Judge said "The court qualifies this as murder, but accepts the reason given by the defence to absolve the accused of guilt. Humanly speaking, the accused couldn’t have acted any other way. His free will was completely turned off when under the influence of medication his wife asked him to strangle her. The love of his life was terminally ill and she had given him clear instructions to that she didn’t want to survive her suicide attempt”.

Anyone with questions about issues related to suicide can contact the Suicide Line via the free phone number 1813.