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July 7, 2024

CLW Activists Escape Jail Time

Two of the six former members of the Coöperatie Laatste Wil (CLW) were this week found guilty of distributing Middel X (sodium azide) amongst their members.

According to a Dutch Court in the southern city of Arnhem, these six activists formed a criminal organisation to enable assisted suicide.

All those charged were over the age of 70 years, and all were active in the CLW.

Interesting, the Court issued no jail terms to anyone, despite the pleas of the prosecution.

Instead, Tiny B. (74) from Amersfoort, received a suspended one-year prison sentence and 80 hours of community service.

The prosecution had demanded a sentence of up to 2.5 years in prison in early April. It is heartening that the Court imposed a considerably lower sentence.

Former chairman Jos van Wijk (76) from Apeldoorn also received a suspended prison sentence of 4 months.

The public prosecution had sought a jail term of 18 months (eight months on probation) for former chairman Jos van Wijk (76) from Apeldoorn.

CLW treasurer Dr Petra de Jong. (71) from Woerden, was acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

The other remaining four suspects were also acquitted on the grounds insufficient evidence of collaboration.

Cooperatie Laatste Wil is the organisation in the Netherlands which is closest to Exit International in its philosophy and outlook.




Philip Nitschke marching in support of the CLW Members, 4 July 2024

The two groups share a deep commitment that a good death should not be the preserved for those who are sick.

Every person over the age of 75 years should have the human right of a good death made available to them.

In sentencing Chairman Jos van Wijk, the Judge said:

“You could and should have done more to stop that circuit” he said. “You are a chairman with two faces … You failed to intervene with people with whom you shared the ideal of keeping the end of life in your own control.”

Sentences sharply lower than demanded

In the Netherlands, participation in a criminal organisation carries a maximum prison sentence of six years.

The maximum sentence for assisted suicide is three years.

This makes the sentences that have been imposed considerably lower than what would have been possible and what the prosecution demanded.

The sensitivity of the case was also said to be a factor.

Over recent years, ther has been strong and active debate in the Netherlands about the entire ‘completed life’ issue.

Elderly people in this country realise that it is not enough to have a euthanasia law. More is needed if the interests of the majority are to be addressed.

However, with the recent change of government in the Netherlands the so-called ‘Completed Life Bill’ of political party D66 is not going anywhere fast.

This is despite its watering down and down over the past 12-24 months.

It was this lack of political action on the Completed Life issue that could be said to have led CLW into taking matters in their own hands.

At the rally, the activists sung a little Dutch ditty. In English the song lyrics read:

When you feel you are done living

Then there should be a means to die with dignity 

No one wants to die by (jumping) off a bridge or with a noose or in front of a train

Other Suspect(s) Deceased

The CLW criminal case began in April this year with eight suspects. One of those was Loek de Leeuw.

Loek died a few days after the court hearings began. He was 80.

According to the prosecution, he died a natural death and the case against him therefor lapses. However this is not what CLW activists say.

At a demonstration march this week in Arnhem, some carried signs that read that Loek had been murdered (by the prosecution).

Last week a second person among those accused died, this time via ‘zelf-doding’ or rational suicide.

At 77 years of age Tom de M. surely figured he did not want to risk a jail term or to die in jail. He was facing 2.5 years in jail.

The prosecution was alleging that he had sold Middel X to over 200 people and had made €20,000 from the sales.

As Tom is now dead, the prosecution against him is likewise.

This reminds Exit of the death of Caren Jenning who was found guilty in Sydney in 2007 of helping her friend Graeme Wiley to die.

Caren would go on to drink her Nembutal after being found guilty but before being sentenced in the New South Wales Supreme Court in Sydney.

Caren Jenning with her lawyer, during her Supreme Court trial in Sydney, June 2008