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15 June, 2024
 
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Mercy killing case to be decided next month

Cyprus court to rule in July on Briton's killing of terminally ill wife

Source: Reuters

A Cyprus court will rule on July 21 whether a British pensioner who killed his terminally ill wife is guilty of premeditated murder, after final submissions in the case on Thursday.

The court will decide whether retired miner David Hunter, 75, plotted to kill his wife who was suffering from terminal blood cancer. Hunter denies the charge, with his lawyers arguing it was a mercy killing after Janice, his wife of more than 50 years, begged him to end her torment.

The case marks the first time a Cypriot court has had to grapple with whether such actions amount to premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence in Cyprus.

The case marks the first time a Cypriot court has had to grapple with whether such actions amount to premeditated murder, which carries a life sentence in Cyprus

Janice died from suffocation after Hunter placed his hands over her nose and mouth at their Paphos home in December 2021. He then attempted to take his own life with pills and alcohol.

The court in the western Cypriot city, where the couple retired two decades ago, heard that her illness caused a marked deterioration in Janice's quality of life and she was in constant pain.

Hunter previously told the court that she had repeatedly begged him to help end her life.

Hunter, who had a long, loving relationship with Janice, refused her requests numerous times, said Michael Polak, a barrister heading advocacy group Justice Abroad which is assisting a team of Cypriot lawyers in Hunter's defence.

"On the last occasion, he acted because of the pain she was under," he said, adding there was no premeditation.

Prosecutor Andreas Hadjikyrou said Janice suffered a terrible death and struggled for some minutes before dying.

"How did Janice even consent, without telling anyone... how could she have agreed to such a terrible death?" he said.

Cyprus does not have laws permitting assisted dying.

The island's parliament is due to discuss euthanasia under medical supervision after its summer recess.

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