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Belgian Murderer Frank Van Den Bleeken Granted Right to Die

BRUSSELS — A Belgian murderer and rapist serving a life sentence is to be allowed to have doctors end his life following a ground-breaking ruling under laws in Belgium permitting people to request euthanasia.

Frank Van Den Bleeken had argued that he had no prospect of release since he could not overcome his violent sexual impulses and so he wanted to exercise his right to medically assisted suicide in order to end years of mental anguish. "Over recent years, he has been seen by several doctors and psychologists and their conclusion is that he is suffering, and suffering unbearably," his lawyer, Jos Vander Velpen, told state broadcaster VRT.

The judicial ruling was the first involving a prisoner since the euthanasia law was introduced 12 years ago.

It was not clear when the medical procedure, to be conducted in a hospital, would take place, the lawyer added. Because he was a prisoner, his client's request had been dependent on the consent of the justice ministry. Belgium, like the rest of the European Union, does not have a death penalty. Van Den Bleeken, aged about 50 and in prison for nearly 30 years, had complained of a lack of therapy provided for his condition in Belgium and therefore he preferred to die.

"If people commit a sexual crime, help them to deal with it," he said in a television documentary. "Just locking them up helps no one: not the person, not society and not the victims."

IN-DEPTH

— The Associated Press