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French high court upholds dismissal of mercy-killing doctor

Nicolas Bonnemaison and his wife (left) at the courthouse of Pau in France in June 2014.
Nicolas Bonnemaison and his wife (left) at the courthouse of Pau in France in June 2014. Marc Zirnheld

The Council of State upheld Tuesday the decision by the French Order of Doctors to dismiss mercy-killing Dr Bonnemaison, forbidding him to practise medicine. He was acquitted last June of his accusation of “poisoning” seven patients.

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The French Council of State rejected Dr Nicolas Bonnemaison’s appeal against the decision by the Order of Doctors to dismiss him, stating that the law “forbids from deliberately causing death”.

Acquitted on 25 june, Bonnemaison had been formally removed from the Order on 1 July.

The decision had been taken on 15 April by the disciplinary Chamber of the Order which had judged that “the gravity” of his acts justified this dismissal.

The Chamber had relied on the French Public Health Code which “forbids a doctor from deliberately causing death”.

The Public Prosecutor’s department has appealed the acquittal of the doctor who will be judged again in front of a court in Angers in western France. The date of the trial has not been decided for the moment.

In his conclusions, the public rapporteur who is responsible for interpreting the law invited the Council of State to uphold the dismissal, pointing out that France had “expressly” ruled out euthanasia or assisted suicide.

He also referred to a new bill on the right-to-die which was recently presented in a report given to the Elysée.

Finally he argued Bonnemaison could have relieved his patients with sedatives, which is something authorized by the actual law on the right-to-die, even if he risked “shortening” their lives.
 

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