Berlin: Germany`s top criminal court issued a
landmark ruling on Friday legalising assisted suicide in cases
where it is carried out based on a patient`s prior request.
The ruling came as the court overturned the conviction of
a lawyer who had counseled his client in 2007 to stop tube
feeding her mother, who had been in a non-responsive coma for
five years. A lower court had convicted attorney Wolfgang Putz
of attempted manslaughter and given him a nine-month suspended
The Federal Court of Justice said the 71-year-old woman
had said in 2002 that she did not want to be kept alive under
such circumstances before falling into the coma.
German Justice Minister Sabine
Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger welcomed the ruling as a major
step toward respecting an individual`s wishes. "There can`t be
forced treatment against a person`s will," she said in a
statement. "This is about the right of self-determination and
therefore a question of a life in human dignity until the
Germany took political steps to clarify the legal
situation surrounding assisted suicide late last year.
Parliament passed a law that made people`s declarations
on whether they wanted treatment to prolong their life
following an accident or when terminally ill binding for
But the court ruling now makes it legal to help end a
person`s life if it is their wish, rather than simply letting
In the case considered, the 71-year-old woman fell into a
coma after a cerebral hemorrhage in October 2002. Confined to
a nursing home, she was fed through a tube for five years.