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European rights court authorises death of French tetraplegic

Vincent Lambert's nephew François (L) and his wife Rachel in court
Vincent Lambert's nephew François (L) and his wife Rachel in court Reuters/Vincent Kessler

The European Court of Human Rights has authorised medical staff to stop giving treatment to tetraplegic Vincent Lambert, who has been in a vegetative state for seven years, against the wishes of his parents but not those of his wife.


The court in Strasbourg, eastern France, endorsed a ruling by France's highest legal body, the Council of State, that medical care that was keeping 38-year-old Lambert alive could be stopped.

It turned down an appeal by his parents, one of his sisters and a half-brother, who opposed the move on religious grounds, arguing that it was a violation of the right to life and constituted "inhuman and degrading treatment".

Lambert's wife, five of his siblngs and one of his nephews had called for him to be allowed to die "with dignity", claiming that it was what the former psychiatric nurse would have wanted.

Doctors had also been in favour of "passive euthanasia" in the case.

The dispute within the family has dragged on since Lambert lapsed into a coma following an accident in 2008.


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