Euthanasia Group Fears Police Raids

Victorian members of a pro-euthanasia group fear police raids after warrants were executed across Australia over the importation of a lethal drug, according to group leader Dr Philip Nitschke.

Two people, from Western Australia and Queensland, were charged with importing the illegal drug Nembutal, and state police have spoken to 10 others in WA, Queensland and South Australia in the past month.

Dr Nitschke, director of Exit International , said on Friday morning that police action had spread a ripple of fear through the group’s 6,000 members, including more than 1,000 Victorians.

He said members feared they were on a police hit-list and were concerned investigators accessed the group’s database.

“Victorian members are saying they want to know if their information has been compromised,” he said. “It has caused a lot of alarm.”

Dr Nitschke said the raids might also shut down one of the easiest ways people could access a drug that was used by veterinarians to put animals down.

He said some of the group’s members were ordering the drug online from a Chinese company that mailed it to them.

“Members are very keen to access this drug, not because they’re sick, but because they’re getting on in years,” Dr Nitschke said. “They think it’s a very good idea to have this in place in case they might need it, in case they get to the stage where they’re too sick and have to ask their husband or wife to do the ordering and the person assisting can be looking at very serious legal consequences.”

Since the raids, Dr Nitschke said, the Chinese company ceased supplying to Australia because it was “not worth it” .

Rupert Ward, 69 of Albany, was charged a month ago with possessing an illegal drug while Brisbane woman Lynn Afotey-Otu , 64, was charged with importation of the drug last week.

Mr Ward will face a WA court next Thursday while Ms Afotey-Otu will face a court in Queensland on June 2.

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

Source: TheAge | 24/5/2014

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