False checkpoint targeting euthanasia supporters part of investigation, police confirm

police-carNZ Herald 27 October 2016
A false police checkpoint set up by police to target euthanasia supporters is part of a police investigation into a suspected assisted suicide in June, police have confirmed.

Wellington Acting District Commander Paul Basham also confirmed that further deaths are being investigated as part of Operation Painter.

“When we become aware of information that people are contemplating suicide, we can’t look the other way,” he said.

The police took the rare step of referring itself to the Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCA) yesterday.

Police earlier admitted that officers used the pretence of a drink-driving stop in Lower Hutt to collect details about elderly people leaving an Exit International meeting last month.

Using those details, officers then visited the homes of nine people who were at the meeting to question them about potential involvement in assisted suicide.

Police called a press conference in Wellington, where Basham said he wanted to “provide some context” to the controversial police actions.

He said a coroner advised the police that a toxicology report in August showed a person had died after consuming a Class C controlled drug.

The person was not suffering from a terminal illness and there were no signs that the death, which occurred in June, was suspicious.

“Aiding and abetting suicide is the principal focus of the police investigation,” Basham said.

Investigators had since identified several more suspected euthanasia cases, though police would not reveal the total number being investigated.

After the police became aware of the Exit International meeting, the drink-drive checkpoint was set up to collect details of the attendees. Nine people were later visited and given counselling and support.

Basham said the investigation and the checkpoint took place “in the interests of preserving life”. Police were obligated to investigate serious offences “regardless of the strength of feeling on the issue.” In an apparent reference to allegations of political interference – a law change around euthanasia is being considered by a select committee – he said police had no position on the issue.
READ MORE: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11737140

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