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Belgian rapist granted right to die

A convicted rapist and murderer who has been imprisoned for almost three decades has been granted the right to die after doctors agreed his psychological condition was incurable, a Belgian official said.

Belgium's justice minister approved Frank Van Den Bleeken's transfer to a hospital where doctors will end his life, the official said.

Van Den Bleeken's lawyer, Jos Vander Velpen, told Belgian television his client was "suffering unbearably".

Belgium has allowed euthanasia since 2002 in cases where patients' physical or psychological suffering is incurable and constant. Some 1,400 people a year choose the option.

Apparently unable to control his sexual urges, the convict had no prospect of leaving prison.

Mr Vander Velpen said his client was "suffering unbearably" because of his psychiatric condition, seeing himself as a danger to society.

"He can no longer live like that," the lawyer said.

The official declined to discuss when the medically assisted suicide would take place.

Belgium, like the rest of the 28-nation European Union, does not have the death penalty.

Van Den Bleeken had requested a transfer to a specialised psychiatric centre in the Netherlands for treatment or, failing that, a mercy killing.

Belgian authorities denied the transfer request earlier this year. An agreement to carry out the assisted suicide was accepted by an appeals court in Brussels on Monday.

Euthanasia for the terminally ill is widely accepted in Belgium. However, a February decision by the country's politicians to extend the euthanasia law to terminally ill children under 18 stirred some controversy.

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From Belfast Telegraph