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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 05:19 GMT
Australian medic's 'suicide machine'
Dr Philip Nitschke
Dr Nitschke helped four die in Australia's outback
An Australian doctor has disclosed details of his controversial 'suicide machine' at a conference on euthanasia in California.

But Dr Philip Nitschke, 55, was unable to show the prototype of the carbon monoxide generator as customs officials confiscated it at Sydney airport.

This may be an answer for terminal ill people who want a peaceful death going round the law

Dr Nitschke
"You don't need a doctor! You can die without one!" Reuters news agency quoted him as telling cheering delegates.

The device consists of an intravenous bag, a small canister and nasal prongs which gradually replace the oxygen flows with lethal levels of carbon monoxide.

Legal loophole

The purpose of the self-operated machine - which can bring about death in less than an hour - is to circumvent laws on assisted suicide.

"This may be an answer for terminal ill people who want a peaceful death going round the law," Mr Nitschke told members of the pro-euthanasia Hemlock Society.

The doctor - who helped four ill people die in the Australian outback in 1996 and 1997 - has advocated "rational suicide" for anybody over 19 whether they are ill or not.

The machine, which has not been tested on anyone, cost around $11,000 to develop but if put on sale would sell for no more than $100.

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  The BBC's Dominic Hughes
"Doctor Philip Nitschke was stopped by customs officials at Sydney Airport"
See also:

23 May 02 | Asia-Pacific
23 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
16 May 02 | Europe
01 Apr 02 | Europe
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