In a rare series of moves, Dutch authorities are investigating whether doctors may have committed crimes in five euthanasia cases, including the deaths of two women with advanced Alzheimer's disease.
In one of the Alzheimer's cases, which prosecutors began probing in September, a physician drugged the patient's coffee without her knowledge and then had the woman physically restrained while delivering the fatal injection. The ongoing criminal investigation is the first since the Netherlands made it legal for doctors to kill patients at their request in 2002.
Dutch prosecutors announced they were examining four other cases last month, including the death of another Alzheimer's patient who "lacked the capacity to express her own will," according to a statement from the prosecutor's office. A spokesperson said that specific criminal charges, if any, would be determined only after the investigations are finished. Several legal experts said that if doctors were found to have killed patients without their explicit request, they could potentially be charged with murder.