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New Belgian euthanasia process will start in January in Dendermonde

After last february the Ghent court of assizes acquitted three doctors for poisoning Tine Nys, the performing doctor Joris Van Hove faces a new trial next January. Now the Dendermonde correctional court will rule on the civil settlement. The question is whether the doctor should be sentenced to pay damages.

Why a new and why a civil process?

After the Ghent court of assizes had acquitted the three doctors in the night of 30 to 31 January 2020, the prosecution decided not to file a claim for cassation, which meant that the criminal acquittal of the doctors could no longer be reversed. The civil party, the family of Tine Nys, had lodged an appeal in cassation. The Court of Cassation ruled in September that a new trial should be held for Van Hove, because his acquittal was insufficiently motivated. There will be no retrial for the two other doctors who were also acquitted.

What is the new case about?

The lawsuit against Van Hove will be initiated on January 12 before the correctional court of Dendermonde, which will rule on the civil settlement. Nys’s family will demand that the doctor be ordered to pay damages, but Van Hove’s defense will dispute that. Lawyer Walter Van Steenbrugge will also try again to summon the superior of the Brothers of Charity René Stockman, because he is said to have intervened to bring Tine Nys’ euthanasia case before the court of assizes.

The case started after one of the woman’s sisters filed a civil party complaint. The court investigated the case, but the public prosecutor in Dendermonde demanded the non-prosecution. The council chamber in Dendermonde ruled in 2016 to exclude the doctors from prosecution, but the civil party appealed against this. The public prosecutor then also requested the referral for poisoning of Tine Nys and the Ghent chamber of indictment finally decided at the end of 2018 to refer the three doctors to the Ghent court of assizes for poisoning. It was the first time that doctors had to answer for this since the enactment of the euthanasia law in 2002. The public prosecutor does not intervene in the case unless the court asks the public prosecutor for advice. The parties will agree deadlines for settlement on January 12, after which the case will be pleaded within a few months.