11 August 2010


6 AUGUST 2010

From The Age newspaper:

Police raid pro-euthanasia office


Pro-euthanasia campaigner and Exit International director. Photo: Nick Moir

DETECTIVES raided Exit International's Melbourne offices yesterday, sparking outrage from the pro-euthanasia group.

Police served a search warrant at the Exit International offices at Doncaster in relation to the death of a South Yarra woman on May 8.

Exit International director Philip Nitschke said the raid was uncalled for and the voluntary euthanasia group would have given police any documents they required.

Dr Nitschke said the documents served were in relation to ''aiding a suicide'' and had been signed by homicide detective Senior Sergeant Ron Iddles.

The woman concerned was in her 60s and is believed to have been terminally ill.
''When a person does end their life, police feel that they need to investigate, to see if somebody has assisted,'' Dr Nitschke said.

He said it was the second time the group's Melbourne offices had been raided. Police had also been to Exit offices in New South Wales, Queensland and Darwin.

''There have never been any charges laid. We are getting a bit fed up with this,'' he said.

''This is not the first time the police have arrived at our [Melbourne] office out of the blue. The same happened in November 2009 over the suicide of another Exit member.
''The police should bear in mind, Exit is not some clandestine organisation that operates underground.''

Senior Constable Jo Stafford said police had taken great care to ensure all protocols were met yesterday and had handled the matter with as much sensitivity as possible.

''It is a sensitive issue when you are dealing with a person's medical records, but we have standard procedures to follow,'' she said.

Dr Nitschke said: ''It is totally unnecessary for the police to pounce on our office unannounced. In reality, they need only pick up the phone if they wish us to provide details about a deceased member of our organisation.''

Exit International has been connected to high-profile euthanasia cases around the world.
In 2005, police launched an investigation into its involvement with terminally ill Point Lonsdale man Steve Guest, 58, who was advised by Dr Nitschke on ways to die.

Mr Guest, who had oesophageal cancer, made a public appeal for a ''peaceful pill'' to end his suffering.

He died at his Point Lonsdale home in July 2005, from an overdose of barbiturates.

For help or information call Suicide Helpline Victoria on 1300 651 251, or Lifeline on 131 114.

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