S. Africa euthanasia activist pleads guilty to murder

20 Jun 2019 / 00:51 H.

JOHANNESBURG: A campaigner for the legalisation of euthanasia in South Africa pleaded guilty to murder on Wednesday, saying he wanted to avoid potential life sentences for the sake of his family.

Sean Davison, who founded right-to-die organisation Dignity SA, was given three years’ house arrest in a plea agreement handed down at the High Court in Cape Town.

“There will be many people disappointed that I accepted a plea bargain, and did not go to trial,“ Davison said in a statement.

“If I had done this, I may have been found not guilty, and thereby led to a law change.

“However, I was facing three life sentences in prison and the stakes were too high.”

Davison, who has three young children, was also sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, which was suspended for five years.

The conditions of his house arrest mean he will be allowed to go to work, church and the doctor, local media reported.

Davison, 58, a biotechnology professor, was arrested last year and charged with murder over three “right-to-die” cases, including of a quadriplegic man and a man with motor-neuron disease.

In 2016, South Africa’s Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that granted a man the right to medically-assisted death and could have opened the way to legalise euthanasia.

South African retired Anglican archbishop and anti-apartheid icon Desmond Tutu, 87, has previously said he would like to be allowed the option of a dignified assisted death. — AFP

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