BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A Belgian murderer and rapist serving a life sentence is to be allowed to die by lethal injection next Sunday following a ruling under laws in Belgium permitting people to request euthanasia, local media reported.
Frank Van Den Bleeken, who has argued that he had no prospect of release since he cannot overcome his violent sexual impulses, will be granted his wish for medically assisted suicide in a prison in Bruges, Belgium.
He has said he wants to end years of mental anguish.
“Euthanasia will indeed be implemented,” a spokeswoman for Belgian justice minister Koen Geens told Belgian daily De Morgen. “The time has come.”
The justice ministry was not immediately available for comment but Reuters reported in September that the ministry had given its consent but had yet to set a date.
The judicial ruling was the first involving a prisoner since the euthanasia law was introduced 12 years ago.
Belgium, like the rest of the European Union, does not have a death penalty.
Van Den Bleeken, aged 51 and in prison for nearly 30 years, had complained of a lack of therapy provided for his condition in Belgium and therefore he preferred to die.
Predominantly Roman Catholic Belgium is not the only country in Europe to provide a right to die but it has pioneered the application of the law beyond the terminally ill.
Cases which attracted international attention included the euthanasia of two deaf men, twins, who were in the process of also losing their sight and of a transgender person left in torment by an unsuccessful sex change operation.
In 2014, Belgium became the first country to allow euthanasia for terminally ill children at any age, a move which drew criticism from religious groups both at home and abroad, though application for minors is limited to those about to die.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Susan Thomas