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weekly update 8 14 February 2006

14 February 2006

Weekly Update 8-14 February 2006 A nurse on trial in Germany has admitted killing a number of patients in his care and has said that his actions were motivated by compassion but 'cannot be justified under any circumstances.'

Stephan Letter, 27, faces 16 murder counts which he has asked to be converted to manslaughter charges, 12 manslaughter counts, two cases of attempted manslaughter and one killing on demand.

He claims that he initially confessed to crimes he did not commit but that in other cases he "took the rest of [the patients'] lives away without being asked, and took away what human dignity they had left."

[BBC, 7 February ] Police are to question a Birmingham journalist who recently revealed that she had killed her aunt during the sixties using morphine.

Maureen Messent said that she has never regretted killing Eileen O'Sullivan when she was in the final stages of lung cancer.

[BBC, 8 February ] The Australian Senate today voted 45-28 in favour of legislation that transfers authority over the legalisation of abortion pill RU-486 from the Health Minister to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, with Parliament having the final veto.

The measure will now go to the House of Representatives, where Prime Minister John Howard has said that he will oppose it.

The Australian Catholic Students Association, the Muslim Students Association of Australia and the Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students had issued a joint statement opposing the legislation.

[, 9 February , , 9 February ] A criminal law reform bill that included proposals to lower penalties for euthanasia has been rejected by the Czech Republic's Senate.

The euthanasia clause, which was one of several reasons for the bill's failure, would have re-classified euthanasia as a crime distinct from murder and carrying a maximum sentence of six years' imprisonment.

Various religious leaders had issued a joint statement in December condemning these proposals. 'Jews have their own experience of euthanasia from the Nazi period... It began with the sick, and ended with six million victims of the Holocaust,' said Rabbi Karel Sidon.

[LifeNews.Com, 8 February ] Disgraced stem cell scientist, Hwang Woo-suk has appealed against a plan by the South Korean government to ban him from further research.

Hwang is still being investigated for his fake claims to have cloned human embryos.

He has asked for his research licence to be upheld until prosecutors have finished their investigations. [The Guardian, 13 February ]

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