Doctor on trial in landmark Netherlands euthanasia case

The trial is the first of its kind in The Netherlands, where euthanasia has been legal since 2002.

(CNN)A doctor from a Dutch nursing home is on trial in a landmark case after performing euthanasia on a woman with dementia who prosecutors say may have had second thoughts about wanting to die.

The 74-year-old had earlier written a directive asking for euthanasia in the event that she needed to be admitted to a home due to dementia and that she thought "the time was right." But, once in the home, she then gave "mixed signals" about wanting to die, according to a statement from the prosecutor's office.
In the Netherlands, euthanasia is strictly defined as "the active termination of life at a patient's voluntary and well-informed request," according to the Royal Dutch Medical Association. It was legalized in 2002, making the country the first in the world to authorize the practice.
    The trial, which is the first of its kind in The Netherlands, started Monday at The Hague district court.
      Prosecutors are not seeking a punishment for the unnamed 68-year-old doctor, who is now retired, saying they were taking into account that she had good intentions, had fully cooperated, and had already been affected by the prosecution and previous disciplinary proceedings.
      But they asked the court to declare her guilty in a case which they say "raises an important question that must be submitted to the court."
      The case hinges on the debate over how doctors should deal with euthanasia in the case of a patient who is incapacitated but can still communicate a desire to live, contrary to an earlier statement.
      "As long as the woman was able to communicate, the nursing home doctor should have kept talking to her about her desire to live or to die," reads the statement from the prosecutor's office.
      "And as long as that conversa