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NVVE psyschologist in Court

On 10th June 2003 NVVE’s psychologist, Martine Cornelisse, was found not guilty of assisting a suicide by the Den Bosch court.

Ms Cornelisse was acquitted of assisting the suicide of a woman she spoke to on the telephone after the woman had taken a lethal dose of medication. The woman had arranged to speak to Ms Cornelisse at this time because she did not want to feel alone when she died. Ms Cornelisse was also acquitted of leaving behind a person in need of help.

In response to the charge Ms Cornelisse had assisted the patient’s suicide, it was argued that she only gave moral support and acted only requested to do so by the “patient”. Her action never took the form of real assistance, and the patient remained in control throughout.

Regarding the charge of abandoning a person in need of help, it was argued the woman had wanted to die and had acted to end her life. She was not in need of help to live; she had explicitly stated she did not want such help. Therefore the fact that Ms Cornelisse was talking to her (on the telephone) in the last minutes before she became soporous did not oblige Ms Cornelisse to call for medical assistance.

Significantly, the Den Bosch ruling referred to the Supreme Court Ruling of 1995 that only active assistance at the time of suicide can be punished. This serves to counter the Groningen verdict which deviates from this higher ruling by finding the defendant guilty of assisting a suicide long before the suicide occurred (see here ).