Monday, December 08, 2008

Convicted for "assisting" suicide in Internet

The Correctional Tribunal of Guingamp, France, found the defendant Joel Avrillon guilty of "not assisting a person in danger" for his guidance and advice as to how to commit suicide given to a teenager in a Internet chat-room. The 16 year old teenager told the defendant that she was planning to commit suicide and Avrillon explained to her how to do it. When the girl committed suicide by taking an overdose of morphine, as suggested by the defendant, Avrillon was originally accused of "inducement to suicide" but the crime was changed (probably to secure a conviction)…not need to say that those encouraging others to commit suicide, especially when the “others” are vulnerable, don’t deserve much sympathy, but the issue is whether providing information constitutes a crime…In the last few years the law has been modified so the provision of information per se may imply criminal liability and posting in Internet information that can be used to commit crimes or even supporting a criminal cause can lead to prosecution. Although in this case it seems that the defendant did guide the victim towards committing suicide, it could be argued, as the mother of the victim has argued, that the pharmacy that provided the morphine is closer in the chain of causation than somebody that randomly met the victim and explained to her how to do what it seems she was planning to do beforehand…again, it is difficult to feel sympathy for the defendant, but this is the type of case that test where one stands on the assertion of criminal liability. What type of information is legal to provide? Does any information that can be used to commit a crime or may result in somebody suffering an injury or death attract criminal liability? Would it be correct to prosecute TV presenters that show how to drive car very fast (and dangerously) every time that somebody has an accident due to reckless or dangerous driving?...

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