The prosecutor in Como, Italy, has launched an inquiry into the death of a 62 year-old engineer originating from Albavilla, in Northern Italy. Suffering from depression, the engineer travelled to Switzerland to have access to assisted suicide. He sent a letter to the Social Services beforehand, informing them of his intentions. According to the daily newspaper, La Repubblica, the sexagenarian “was not terminally ill and had no major disability”. A friend accompanied him to the Italian border in Chiasso. He then travelled to Zurich alone to commit suicide.
On repatriation of the deceased, “unnatural causes” was found on the death certificate. As assisted suicide is prohibited in Italy, the Public Prosecutor for the province of Como launched an inquiry and requested an autopsy.
The Italian courts should issue a letter of request to the Swiss judicial authorities to clarify the conditions for access to assisted suicide. In fact, to date, Article 115 of the Swiss Penal Code stipulates that “anyone who, for personal reasons, incites or assists someone to commit suicide shall be punished, if suicide is attempted or committed, by a fine or prison sentence of up to 5 years”. This ruling does not apply if “the individual wishing to die takes and freely expresses” the decision to commit suicide.
Furthermore, the Italian legal system is also trying to establish whether the friend who accompanied the engineer was aware of the latter’s intentions, in which case, in accordance with Italian law, he could be guilty of “incitement to commit suicide”.
Le Figaro (03/09/2017), Milano Repubblica (02/09/2017)