A German court has shown mercy to a man who killed his wife of 70 years because he feared he could no longer take care of her.
The 92-year-old man, who cannot be named, suffocated his 91-year-old wife with a blanket on November 2 before reportedly writing a goodbye letter, calling an ambulance and trying to take his own life.
His wife had been suffering from dementia and could not help herself when he carried out the act, the court found.
According to 7News, in finding the man guilty of manslaughter, he was given a two-year suspended sentence and ordered to pay $16,000 to a non-profit organisation.
Lawyers for the 92-year-old relayed a message in court.
“My wife and I were happily married for 70 years … We were always together as a couple. I have looked after my wife in the best possible way over the years.”
The man said he was worried his wife would be taken to a care home as it became increasingly difficult to look after her alone.
Medically assisted suicide is not illegal in Germany, thanks in part to a group of doctors and patients who sued to change the criminal law that had banned it.
The New York Times reports that Germany’s highest court overturned a ban in February this year that means terminally ill patients can seek help to end their lives without having to travel overseas.
“The rule is not compatible with the basic law and thus void,” said Judge Andreas Vosskuhle, the president of the eight-member Federal Constitutional Court, in February.
He deemed the right to die “includes the freedom to take one’s life and to rely on the voluntary help of another person”.