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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 December 2005, 10:29 GMT
Dutch 'suicide consultant' jailed
By Geraldine Coughlan
BBC News, The Hague

The doctor was not present when the woman killed herself
A Dutch court has sentenced a man calling himself a "suicide consultant" to a year in jail for helping a mentally ill woman to end her life.

Jan Hilarius, the 73-year-old founder of the Dutch suicide consultancy De Einder, was found guilty of helping a woman obtain medicines to kill herself.

The 25-year-old died in 2003, two years after the Netherlands became the first country to legalise euthanasia in 2001.

Doctors have drawn up new rules to extend the practice.

The court said that even though Mr Hilarius was not there when the woman committed suicide, he was guilty because he had given her information about deadly combinations of medicines available online.

Euthanasia is only allowed here under strict medical conditions.

Mr Hilarius set up the suicide consultancy "De Einder", or "Horizon", to offer "professional help" to people who want to kill themselves by persuading them to change their mind or assisting them, if that is their choice.

Critics say it is pushing the limits of the euthanasia law, but doctors have drawn up new guidelines on giving medicine to alleviate the suffering of terminally ill patients.

The doctors' organisation says this is not euthanasia, even though it can put the patient to sleep.

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