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Is death preferable to life in prison?

Richard Easton discusses Belgium's refusal to administer a death sentence to prisoner Frank Van Den Bleeken

3 February 2015

Before Belgium finally abolished the death penalty in 1996, the country had not executed a criminal since 1950. But in a land where euthanasia is legal, can prisoners opt to be killed rather than serve jail time? That is the question posed by the strange case of Belgian murderer and rapist Frank Van Den Bleeken.

In 1989, Van Den Bleeken raped and strangled 19-year-old Christiane Remacle. Deemed insane, Van Den Bleeken spent seven years in a prison psychiatric ward before being released. Within weeks of leaving prison, he raped three more victims. Van Den Bleeken, now 50, is serving an indefinite prison sentence. Considering himself an i...

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