Italian Group Probed for Organizing "Death Trips"

Suspected of Accompanying Terminal Patients to the Netherlands

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TURIN, Italy, NOV. 20, 2001 (Zenit.org).- An investigation by the Italian daily La Stampa of medical "death trips" to the Netherlands has sparked a judicial investigation in Turin and abroad.



Exit, a Turin "cultural" association, has been accused of organizing trips to the Netherlands, where euthanasia is legal, for terminal patients seeking a "gentle death."

The judicial probe includes Exit president Emilio Coveri and might extend to his collaborators, Dutch doctors, and patients´ relatives. If charged and convicted, they face up to 15 years in prison.

On Sunday, police raided the Turin premises of Exit and confiscated computers and documents.

Exit´s president Coveri defended himself. "We have never accompanied anyone to die," he said. "We have limited ourselves to explain what the possibilities are, studying scientific data on this most delicate matter."

Cardinal Severino Poletto of Turin told the press: "How is it possible that an organization exists to carry out abroad what is prohibited in Italy?"

He added: "It is one thing to let an association act for the treatment of the sick abroad, and [quite] another to accompany them to do away with their life."

Cardinal Poletto noted that a few years ago the municipal council in Turin approved a motion in favor of euthanasia.

Catholic doctors have also commented on the Exit case, expressing in a note that "pain and loneliness might lead to the desire to die, but the answer is not to facilitate death but to alleviate the causes."

These are "lugubrious one-way trips," very different "from the hope-filled trips to which we were accustomed," L´Osservatore Romano commented today.