Estonian prosecutor's office charges man over provision of assisted suicide device

Paul Tammert
Paul Tammert Source: ERR

The Southern District Prosecutor's Office has sent to the courts criminal charges in relation to an individual who constructed, and rented out for financial gain, a "device" by which users could administer their own assisted suicide, via a lethal gas. Two people reportedly took their own lives as a result of his services.

The suspect, Paul Tammert (pictured) is charged with providing illegal health care services. 

The Prosecutor's Office told ERR that: "According to the charge sheet, [Tammert] rented out the device at his own discretion at least three times to people, two of whom died as a result of using said device, while in the third case the process was left incomplete, since the device ran out of gas."

Kairi Kaldoja, lead prosecutor at the Southern District Prosecutor's Office, said that according to the indictment, Tammert offered people health status assessments, then permitted them to make use of a gas which can cause fatality when inhaled, i.e. he provided healthcare services for which he was not licensed.

Kaldoja said: "Paul Tammert first assessed whether a person's mental acuity was adequate enough to be able to make their own decisions at the same time that their physical health had been sufficiently incurable to warrant ending their own life."

"Having completed an assessment, he rented out a device which allowed the person to utilize the lethal gas. According to the prosecutor's office, a doctor's qualification and a health service license are required both to assess people's health conditions and to use any gas which has an effect on those individuals' health, yet Paul Tammert lacks both of these," Kaldoja went on.

Even with such permission, Tammert would not legally have been able to act unilaterally in his actions.

"Matters of life and death are vital and hence must be very clearly legislated for. Under current law, there is no legislation which would permit one person alone to decide on the life and well-being of another person. Far less can an individual do so this without the capacity and competence to assess health and to make such actions in this area."

If found guilty, the suspect may face a fine, or up to three years in prison.

Active, voluntary euthanasia is not legal in Estonia, the device in question would be operated by the patient having been handed over by Tammert, thus constituting assisted suicide.

Editor's note: The original article title and text was amended from 'euthanasia' following a complaint from Paul Tammert.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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