Nicolas Bonnemaison trial: French doctor who denied ‘playing God’ is cleared of patient euthanasia

The courtroom burst into applause when the verdict was announced after three hours of deliberation

A doctor accused of hastening the death of seven suffering patients by poisoning them, has been cleared of charges including euthanasia.

The verdict in the trial of Dr Nicolas Bonnemaison, 53, was the second test in a week of France’s laws on euthanasia or “managing the end of life”. Twelve jurors accepted Dr Bonnemaison’s argument that he had not “played God” but  had taken medically justified decisions to curtail the agony of patients who had only a short time to live.

The courtroom in Pau in south-western France burst into applause when the verdict was announced after three hours of deliberation.

In a written explanation of its judgment, the jury evaded the question of whether it was morally or medically justified to hasten the death of a patient dying in agony. The jurors said that it had “not been proven” that by administering “sedatives” including a banned poison, Dr Bonnemaison intended to kill his patients.

In another case the Conseil d’Etat, or Council of State, ruled that doctors could turn off the life support of Vincent Lambert - a ruling the European Council of Human Rights blocked today.

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