2 Japanese doctors indicted over consensual killing of terminal ALS patient

Kyodo News

Posted at Aug 13 2020 07:22 PM

TOKYO - Prosecutors indicted Thursday 2 doctors over the death of a terminally ill 51-year-old woman with ALS, alleging they killed her last year with her consent.

Yoshikazu Okubo, 42, and Naoki Yamamoto, 43, were arrested in July for allegedly giving Yuri Hayashi a lethal dose of a sedative drug at her home in the western Japanese city of Kyoto last November.

Before her death, the woman had transferred 1.3 million yen ($12,180) to Yamamoto's bank account.

The disease Hayashi suffered, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurological disease with no fundamental treatments established. Afflicted since 2011 and hardly able to move, she is believed to have wished to die by euthanasia.

According to the indictment, Okubo and Yamamoto injected sedative barbiturate into her gastrostomy tube, a device used to guide food directly to the stomach, at her apartment between 5:20 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. on Nov. 30, killing her through acute drug intoxication.

Okubo, who operates a medical clinic in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, and Yamamoto, a doctor living in Tokyo's Minato Ward, were not her attending physicians. They left her apartment soon after they gave her the drug, investigative sources said.

A caretaker who had left the room while Hayashi was with the doctors found her unconscious soon after the doctors left, investigative sources said.

Hayashi was pronounced dead at a hospital at around 8:10 p.m. that night and traces of the sedative barbiturate, which acts as a central nervous system depressant, were detected in her body, according to the indictment and the sources.

Okubo is believed to have begun communicating with Hayashi through private direct messages on Twitter 11 months before the incident, discussing dates and fees for the assisted death, and bought the barbiturate drug around 1 month before the alleged murder, according to the sources.