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Son jailed for three years for 'mercy-killing' mum

The Local · 12 Jun 2012, 15:02

Published: 12 Jun 2012 15:02 GMT+02:00

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The sentence handed down on Tuesday by judges in the state court in Braunschweig, Lower Saxony, was only six months less than what state prosecutors were demanding.

The man's defence lawyers had called for a suspended sentence. It remains unclear whether he will appeal.

The man suffocated his mother with a towel in a care home near Braunschweig at the beginning of this year, after a riding accident in 2004 had left her in a vegetative state.

At the start of the trial in May, the man testified that he had killed his mother to "release" her, even though the patient had not left any instructions.

"This case tests the law to its limits," presiding Judge Ralf-Michael Polomski said in court on Tuesday. He said that although "many people have a moral understanding" for the man's actions, it was still a crime.

Though the court accepted that he had behaved out of sympathy for his mother, Polomski said that if they had followed the defence's recommendation of a suspended sentence, "there would have been no limits left."

"How should a court rule next time a carer acts out of pity?" he asked. "In our society, the protection of life is absolute."

The court's decision was also determined by the fact that the man had not exhausted all his legal options before he took action.

In the spring of last year, the 26-year-old had asked the home to stop his mother's artificial nutrition, a request which was refused.

"That is fully within the home's rights," said the judge, but he added that the man should have realised at that point that he had the option of fighting for the right to turn off his mother's life-support machines through the courts.

The judge acknowledged that this would have been "long and difficult," but it was a course he was legally obliged to take.

Story continues below…

During the trial, psychologist Ulrich Diekmann criticized the care home's management for not providing the accused with any support, saying that he had essentially been left alone.

Patient protection organization German Hospice Foundation welcomed Tuesday's ruling, saying, "the justification for killing in sympathy needs to be carefully questioned."

The Local/DAPD/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:39 June 12, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
Sadly, I have to agree with the courts on this one based on the specific facts. Having said that, I 100% understand what he did and would probably do it myself....
17:20 June 12, 2012 by LIMA
I can understand what he did - and would also probably do it myself however...I do not understand whay a repetetive offender or child abuser, sometimes even cold blooded Murderers are given marginally more than this person.

As for the quote "in our society the protection of life is absolute" it should read "the protection of money and Assets is absolute". People who commit crimes against property are usually given stiffer sentences than kiddie fiddlers.
22:54 June 14, 2012 by Steelfeather
A rapist causing severe damage to the victim's health will be sentenced to 3 years as well, probably less than that. The sentence might even be suspended.

Sometimes I despair of the legal system here...
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