Friday April 14 6:55 PM ET
OSLO, Norway (AP) - The supreme court on Friday upheld the murder conviction of the first Norwegian doctor ever tried for a mercy killing in a key test of the nation's euthanasia laws.
Christian Sandsdalen, a retired 82-year-old physician, gave a lethal dose of morphine to multiple sclerosis victim Bodil Bjerkmann, 45, at her request in June 1996. He then demanded that he be tried for murder to test the laws.
He was convicted of first-degree murder in a court battle that went through a series of appeals before reaching the supreme court.
The five-member high court also upheld the lower court's decision to indefinitely postpone Sandsdalen's sentencing, which means the elderly doctor will probably never be punished due to mitigating circumstances. First-degree murder carries a maximum 21 year jail term in Norway.
The court, in a unanimous ruling, said the most important thing was to confirm that euthanasia remains illegal in Norway, no matter how good the intentions.
Previous courts had also noted that Sandsdalen believed he was doing
the right thing because the woman was dying and in terrible pain. However,
the courts said Sandsdalen, who retired from active practice in 1985, should
have done more to find an alternative, such as prescribing stronger pain