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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
Swiss assisted suicide 'may be illegal'
Jennifer and Robert Stokes
The couple were not thought to be terminally ill
A Tory MP is calling for an investigation into whether the deaths of a British couple who travelled to Switzerland to commit suicide was illegal.

Concern has been raised about the deaths of Robert and Jennifer Stokes who are thought to have swallowed a lethal dose of barbiturates at a flat run by voluntary euthanasia charity Dignitas.

Mr Stokes, 59, suffered from epilepsy and his 53-year-old wife from diabetes and back problems, but neither was thought to have been terminally ill.

MP Andrew Selous says helping able-bodied people die may be a crime in Switzerland.

I will be asking the government to raise that issue with the Swiss authorities
Andrew Selous
The Tory MP for south-west Bedfordshire is to raise the issue in Parliament.

"It is my understanding that it is a crime in Switzerland to help able-bodied people to commit suicide," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"They were not terminally ill.

"Sadly we will never know what help they could have received with pain or depression or any other problems they were facing.

"It would be very worrying if there was a general trend that able-bodied people, who are not terminally ill, were to view assisted suicide as a way out of their problems."

'Suicide tourism'

Dignitas, which has helped about 150 people end their lives, is at the centre of a row about "suicide tourism" to Switzerland.

In January 74-year-old motor neurone disease sufferer Reginald Crew became the first Briton to publicly travel to the country to kill himself with the help of the group.

Mr and Mrs Stokes, from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, travelled to Zurich at the end of March and died in a flat in the city on 1 April.

"I will be asking the government to raise that issue with the Swiss authorities," added Mr Selous.


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