Paraplegic shooting suspect can avoid trial and end his life, Spanish court says

Man who allegedly injured former co-workers before being shot by police is entitled to assisted dying

A Spanish court has ruled that a paraplegic man, who was accused of firing on colleagues in a rage before being shot in the spine by police, can avoid trial as he has the right to end his life.

Last December, Marin Eugen Sabau, 46, a Romanian security guard, allegedly fired on his former co-workers at a security company in Tarragona in eastern Spain, seriously injuring three people. He later shot and injured a police officer before being severely wounded by police marksmen.

The national court in Tarragona upheld an earlier court ruling that, given his condition, Sabau had a right to euthanasia under a law passed last year. The court said the law had not anticipated a situation in which a person facing criminal charges might request assisted dying.

Euthanasia was a “fundamental right” with which the judicial system could not interfere, the court said.

Spain’s euthanasia law allows adults with “serious and incurable” conditions that cause “unbearable suffering” to choose to end their lives.

The decision was rejected by lawyers representing the wounded police officer, who has appealed to the constitutional court.

“The national court’s decision is erroneous,” argued Antonio Bitos, the lawyer representing the wounded officer. “It hasn’t taken into account the victims’ suffering nor their dignity.”

Bitos accused the court of “squandering” the opportunity to rule on a unique case. Sabau had been due to be euthanised on 28 July and if the appeal fails he will get his wish.

In a statement released from the prison hospital in July, Sabau said: “I’m paraplegic. I’ve got 45 stitches in one hand and I can barely move my left arm. I’m full of screws and I can’t feel my chest.”

He claimed that his bosses at the Securitas company had made his life “a living hell” and that he was a victim of exploitation and racism. Before the attack, he sent an email to his superiors that read: “I’ve got no option, I will take the law into my own hands. Lessons learned with blood aren’t easily forgotten.”

He also claimed that the Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police, fired first and without warning and continued to fire when he was already unconscious.

In its ruling, the court recognised that Sabau caused “pain as well as physical and moral damage to his victims” and that there was reason to assume he would be convicted of crimes.

However, it added, his condition causes “constant physical and psychological suffering without any possibility of relief and he faces the prospect of a very limited life”.


Stephen Burgen in Barcelona

The GuardianTramp

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