Belgium's authorities have agreed to euthanize Frank Van Den Bleeken, a prisoner serving a life sentence for rape and murder. Even though the country doesn't have the death penalty, authorities have let prisoners with terminal illnesses be put to death since 2002. Van Den Bleeken's illness, however, is psychiatric—he says his desire to be sexually violent will never go away.
Van Den Bleeken, now in his fifties, had requested a transfer for treatment at a specialized psychiatric center in the Netherlands or, failing that, a mercy killing. Belgian authorities denied the transfer request earlier this year, saying it was legally impossible to transfer him abroad. On Monday, a Brussels appeals court then accepted an agreement to carry out the assisted suicide.
He'll be moved to a hospital to be euthanized.
Palliative care experts are obviously concerned that this decision is indicative of systemic failure. Dr. Wim Distelmans told the Dutch site Flanders News, "We should offer him a humane existence. Surely, we are not going to carry out euthanasia because we can't offer an alternative?"
The sisters of one of Van Den Bleeken's think he should be forced to carry out his life sentence. (He raped and murdered their sister in 1989.) "Let him rot in his cell," they told the Dutch paper Algemeen Dagblad.
[Photo via AP]