Spain allows man to be euthanized ahead of trial for attempted murder

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May 29, 2001
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Authorities in Spain euthanized a man on Tuesday who faced trial for shooting and wounding three people at his former workplace, as well as a police officer, drawing criticism from victims who said he should not be helped to die before going to court.
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The unprecedented case has cast light on Spain’s controversial euthanasia law, which allows patients suffering from chronic pain to undergo assisted suicide, regardless of their legal standing, according to court documents.

Police say Marin Eugen Sabau, 46, stormed the offices of the security company from which he had recently been fired in the northeastern city of Tarragona and opened fire in December.

Security camera footage from the shooting shows a man removing a hat and wig as he enters the office, before pulling out a gun and shooting several people. Blood from the victims, who pleaded for their lives, pooled on the floor.






After the attack, Sabau shot an officer at a checkpoint and then barricaded himself in a farmhouse stocked with weapons, police said. Officers cornered him and shot him several times, causing irreversible spinal damage, according to his euthanasia petition. He was left partially paralyzed and had one leg amputated, injuries he said left him in chronic pain and made him eligible for euthanasia.
Before he could stand trial for attempted murder, Sabau asked to be considered for doctor-assisted suicide.

“I am paraplegic. I have 45 stitches on my hand. I can’t move my left arm well. I have screws and I can’t feel my chest,” Sabau said in a statement from the prison hospital that was released to local media outlets, according to the Spanish daily newspaper El Pais.
Originally from Romania, Sabau said he had been the victim of racism and that his bosses had made his life “a living hell,” the paper reported. In an email to his superiors before the shooting, he threatened to “take the law into my own hands,” adding, “Lessons learned in blood are not easily forgotten.”










Spain is one of four European countries that allow patients with incurable diseases or chronic pain to be euthanized, along with Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

“He has the right to a dignified death, of course, but what about the compensation of the victims?” Mireia Ruiz, a lawyer for one of the wounded, told local journalists.
Spain’s euthanasia law, passed in March 2021, says adults with conditions that cause “unbearable suffering” can choose to end their lives through physician-assisted suicide. It makes no exceptions for people in the middle of legal proceedings.
Lawyers for the victims of the December attack appealed to the court to halt Sabau’s death until after the trial, but Judge Sonia Zapater Torres rejected their request.
“One could say that there is a clash of fundamental rights here,” Zapater Torres said in her ruling. The right to dignity and personal autonomy is a fundamental right that trumps the victims’ right to a fair trial, she concluded.

 

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