Ramon Sampedro – a ships mechanic when a young man- died by assisted suicide in 1998 at 56 after 26 years of being a tetraplegyc because of an accident when he dove into the sea near his home village in Porto do Son in Galicia, northwest of Spain.
Ridden to bed, he learnt to write with his mouth and cultivated himself with the help of his most intimate friends who provided him with books. Sampedro did not want to stay in a specialized center as he felt like “being in a guetto” so his family took him with them.
In 1992 he became a DMD-Spain member as he was asking for help to be recognized his right-to-die with dignity. That society gave him legal help to begin his 6 years long fight to get a legal aid to die without anyone being penalized. His fight took him to the Spanish Constitutional Court and the Strasbourg Court. He was finally aided to die by unknown friends on 12th January 1998. He left an impressive open letter to the judges and the society and caused an ethical turmoil in the Spanish society which lead to a a Senatorial Committee on Euthanasia in 1999.
Before he died he had become a most popular man because of the clarity , goodness, humour and strenght shown in his radio and TV appearences. He also wrote a book: “Letters from Hell”.
After his death, his sister-in-law and heir took his case to the UNHRC. this has been the first case taken to that instance. The UNHCR finally ruled that the demand was not admissable. For the exact reasons, please read their communication in French , English or Spanish .
For more information on Ramon Sampedro’s case, read the English or Spanish article on the website of ADMD Spain.