Public prosecutors in Portugal have since 2015 been investigating nine cases involving crimes relating to assisted dying, having shelved another 77 by the end of last year, according to figures from the attorney-general’s office, it emerged this week.
The news comes in the week after parliament debated a petition calling for the decriminalisation of assisted dying, and before a Left Bloc draft bill on the subject is to be tabled. The Greens and People-Animals-Nature have also promised to table bills this year.
In Portugal, assisted dying is not classed as a crime with that name, but its practice can be punished under three articles in the Penal Code - privileged homicide (article 133), homicide at the request of the victim (article 134) and the crime of incitement or aid to suicide (article 135).
These crimes can result in prison terms of up to five years in the case of privileged homicide and the crime of incitement or aid to suicide, and up to three years for homicide at the request of the victim.
In 2015 and 2016, prosecutors began 86 investigations, but the vast majority of them, were shelved, leaving just nine still ongoing, according to the official information provided.