A Belgian convicted of murder and rape who has been imprisoned for almost three decades has been granted the right to die after doctors agreed his psychiatric condition was incurable, an official and a lawyer said Tuesday.
Frank Van Den Bleeken sought the right to die because he was "suffering unbearably" from his psychiatric condition, his lawyer Jos Vander Velpen said.
Unable to control his sexual urges, the convict had no prospect of living in freedom.
"He has clearly said that he didn't want to leave prison because he didn't want to risk creating further victims," he said. Seeing himself as a danger to society, he could "no longer live like that," the lawyer said.
Belgium's justice minister approved Frank Van Den Bleeken's transfer to a hospital where doctors will end his life, an official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the case publicly.
Van Den Bleeken's lawyer declined to elaborate on his client's psychiatric condition or to discuss when the medically-assisted suicide would take place, citing his client's right to privacy.
Belgium has allowed euthanasia since 2002 in cases where patients' physical or psychological conditions are incurable and constant. About 1,400 people a year choose the option, but it has rarely ever been applied to convicts before. Belgium doesn't have the death penalty.
Van Den Bleeken had requested a transfer for treatment at a specialized psychiatric center in the Netherlands or, failing that, a mercy killing. Belgian authorities denied the transfer request earlier this year. On Monday, a Brussels appeals court accepted an agreement to carry out the assisted suicide.
Euthanasia for the terminally ill is widely accepted in Belgium. However, a February decision by the country's lawmakers to extend the euthanasia law to terminally ill children under 18 stirred some controversy.