Has assisted suicide made the founder of Dignitas a millionaire?

Ludwig MinelliAn investigation by the Swiss newspaper Beobachter has suggested that the assisted suicide business has made the head of Dignitas, Ludwig Minelli, a millionaire. Assisted suicide is lawful in Switzerland, but those assisting may not “selfishly” profit from the death. The Beobachter points out that Minelli declared that he had no taxable personal fortune in 1998, when he established Dignitas. Ten years lager, he has an annual income of about US$150,000 and a personal fortune of $1.8 million. How did he become so wealthy, asks Beobachter.

Andreas Brunner, a Swiss prosecutor, claims that Minelli is hiding behind Swiss privacy laws. ”We have never had a good look at their book-keeping but in order to demand that we need a good reason and a concrete example that there is something suspicious to investigate,” he said. “He has promised for years to make the accounts public but it has never happened.”

Soraya Wernli, a nurse who worked for Dignitas between 2003 and 2005, has accused it of being a “production line of death concerned only with profits”. Minelli acknowledges that selfishly assisting a suicide is illegal, but that profiting from it is not, so long as “you are helping and abetting without selfish motives”. London Telegraph, June 24 

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