Catholic deacon euthanised dozens of patients in Belgium

A deacon who allegedly killed at least 40 hospital patients in Belgium believes he was acting out of compassion for them, because their suffering was excessive.

Although euthanasia is legal in Belgium, Ivo Poppe, 57, is facing charges because there is no evidence patients consented to his actions.

Poppe allegedly killed his victims at the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur Menin by smothering them or giving them a fatal dose of insulin.

The deacon worked at the hospital as a nurse from 1980 until 2002, when he was ordained.

The married father of three adult children continued to visit the hospital as a pastoral assistant until he began full-time work as a deacon in 2011.

It is unclear whether he killed anyone while serving as a deacon.

According to police, Poppe kept records of his alleged victims. He confessed to the killings when confronted.

Poppe’s lawyers say he was motivated by compassion when he carried out his actions

Police believe he was just a serial killer, using the hospital as cover.

Poppe is being examined by psychiatrists before his trial.

A spokesperson for the Diocese of Bruges said: “Euthanasia and deacon: these are two words which do not belong together in the same sentence.”

Bishop Jozef De Kesel said: “We can only condemn and deplore the matters with which he has been charged. “

Bishop De Kesel expressed sympathy for the families of victims.

Last month, the Daily Mail reported that five people die each day on average at the hands of doctors by legal euthanasia in Belgium.

The number of euthanasia cases in Belgium increased by 27 per cent in 2013, compared with the previous year’s figures.

In 2003, Belgium was the second country in the world to legalise euthanasia after Holland liberalised its law a year earlier, becoming the first country since Nazi Germany to permit the practice.

Earlier this year, Belgium legalised euthanasia for children who are terminally ill and have unrelieved suffering.

Critics say safeguards around such laws have been shown to be meaningless.

Recent surveys suggest at least half the euthanasia deaths in Belgium are not reported by doctors, who just perform them and carry on.


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