A convicted rapist and murderer in Belgium was recently granted permission to end his life under the country's euthanasia laws--even though he is not terminally ill.
BBC News reports that Frank Van Den Bleeken filed a request in 2011 for euthanasia citing "unbearable psychological anguish," and said that allowing him to leave prison would "risk creating further victims."
The ruling followed a three-year legal battle and is the first involving a prisoner since the assisted dying law was introduced in Belgium 12 years ago.
Van Den Bleeken, 50, will soon be transferred to a hospital where the medical procedure will take place, his lawyers told reporters.
"But I cannot say when or where that will happen," Jos Vander Velpen added.
According to reports, another 15 inmates immediately also requested euthanasia immediately following the court's ruling.
The European Court of Human Rights has criticized Belgium several times for its failure to properly treat mentally ill prisoners, the BBC's Piers Scholfield reports, and Belgian senator Els van Hoof called this particular ruling "troubling" and warned that it could lead to a "slippery slope."
"The court found he could not be held to account for his acts due to his mental state. He should have been interned and given mental treatment, but ended up in an ordinary jail where he wasn't given the psychiatric support he required," reports the site Flanders News.
The site also spoke to Dr. Wim Distelmans, an expert in palliative care, who said:
"That's an elementary right for patients and all people. We should offer him a humane existence. Surely, we are not going to carry out euthanasia because we can't offer an alternative?"
Paul Moynan, director of CARE for Europe, said that Belgium was at the "forefront of making euthanasia available on demand" and encourages Christians to fight against such trends, as every life holds value.
He added: "The door was first opened in 2003, and every year since then the demand for euthanasia and its practice has increased. This is not a slippery slope, but a rapid avalanche by this culture of death. As Christians, we should be the first to recognize that it is not for us to decide when we die; and so in every country we should fight any attempt to weaken laws that protect life."